Pass It On, Share the Hunt
January 1, 2018 | View PDF
Here lately I've been on a real kick about what it means to pass on the hunting heritage, and I'm still really adamant about bringing in the next generation of hunters. It's not only rewarding for everyone directly involved, but it improves the sport as a whole. Mike O’Malley, President of the Black Belt Branch of QDMA, right here in Montgomery, just had such an experience, and
“Some of my greatest, most meaningful memories are those spent with my father in the field. I was blessed to have a father who made time to devote with me and my friends teaching us how to enjoy God’s glory and splendor while hunting and fishing. The hours he created in his schedule to teach us how to enjoy the outdoors as stewards of our resources will never be forgotten.
With three grown boys of my own, I have tried to pass those blessings forward to them. Furthermore, I have learned how to find opportunities to share his treasures of safe outdoor adventures with others, like I did this past week.
One of my dearest friends from Texas, Joey Isbell, blessed our family when he brought his three children and lovely bride, Julie, on their annual Christmas break visit to Alabama. His son, Jody and his daughter Jamie, both wanted to spend a couple of days in the Alabama countryside in pursuit of an Alabama whitetail buck. His other daughter, Jenna, spent her trip with my wife, affectionately known as Aunt Jeannie, shopping and getting their nails done. I’m not sure I will ever understand the desire to paint your nails when there is always something to do outside, but Aunt Jeannie and Jenna always do!
I had the pleasure of taking Jamie out for an afternoon hunt. As we drove to the property, we discussed her life. Jamie has recently been accepted as an incoming freshman at the University of Alabama. I know she is excited to embrace this next adventure in her life as I could see her excitement as she talked about graduation this spring and enrollment next fall.
In the stand, we had hours to discuss hunting. Three years ago, I sat with Jamie as she harvested her first Alabama whitetail, a doe, from about 80 yards. The next year, we were blessed with a hog, but she hadn’t been able to find a buck to harvest until this year.
As the afternoon progressed, she asked questions about our management program. As the Black Belt Branch president of the Quality Deer Management Association, I have long engaged in a management program to improve the habitat for our wildlife and improve the genetic makeup of our deer population. Obviously, we can have a much larger impact on the habitat than we can on the gene pool, but when properly implemented with adherence, a good management program will produce positive results in as little as four or five years.
As we discussed our management program, I could see her slowly understanding the importance of managing the deer herd. She asked all the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions you would expect to hear from a young outdoorsman. She began to look at the young deer in the field and attempted to age each one as we enjoyed watching the young bucks play around and chase a few does.
When it came time to harvest her fist buck, she contemplated which one she would take. Much to my surprise, she looked at me and said, “Uncle Mike, I think it would be best for me to take the big three pointer.” I was proud to know she understood the importance of our management program, but I told her one deer wouldn’t matter and she could harvest any buck in the field including a nice young buck with a much larger rack. Her response was simple, “If everyone said one buck wouldn’t matter, what would we have?” In the course of three days, Jamie went from a hunter to a conservationist. She understood in three days what took me years to figure out. We are stewards of the land, and when all of us take the time to do our part, we ensure the quality of our natural resources for future generations.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jamie harvests a really nice buck next year. Who knows, it might be one of the bucks she let walk this past weekend. My dad would be proud.”
QDMA is more than just digging dirt and watching deer. It's about the people in and around the world of deer hunting. It doesn't matter where you're from or what you look like, but what you're willing to put into this passion, and I get to see that every day. Here's to the next generation of deer hunters, and all the memories we'll make getting there, so go get’em!