The Alabama Housewife

​Southern Humorist, Storyteller and Writer

Week Five


Although I have lived all of my life in The South, and until recent years in Alabama, I did not grow up with a Daddy who liked to hunt. I had friends who hunted, and my uncle was a huge bird hunter who let me help him with his dogs when I was little. He’d put a quail wing on a fishing line and I’d get to cast it out across the back yard while he taught his bird dogs to point and sit. Hunting wasn’t foreign to me. Not at all. But when I married into a hunting family almost thirty years ago; it was a learning experience to say the least. I learned the importance of unscented laundry detergent. I learned to prepare deer tenderloin that will melt in your mouth. I learned to fry quail and serve it over creamy grits, collard greens and pot liquor with home made buttermilk biscuits. I learned all the back roads to the taxidermists shop and I learned you really should use the 100 pound wall hanger when your son chooses to display a deer head above his bed. I even learned when you run out of space, a “European Mount” makes a lovely place to keep your jewelry.  I must admit though, the greatest thing I have learned about hunting is—

there is so much more to it than simply the hunt.  

For a mother, loading your child into a truck full of camouflage outfits, charcoal, lighter fluid, packed coolers (along with a handle or two of Wild Turkey) and of course all of the guns can be a nervous experience. I was always on edge as my boys left the driveway and my son began to anticipate my exit speech early on. He would see the look on my face and he knew it was coming. He knew me so well he began saying it to me instead: “Yes ma’am, I know, don’t touch the guns if Daddy’s not there.”  Of course, he aged out of the necessity of that speech and I shifted it to something more age appropriate but I always threw in something about being careful with the weaponry as they rolled out of the drive. I think one of the most important things children learn from hunting with a parent is gun safety. It’s something we ALL need to have a command of and having knowledge of the proper use of guns is something everyone should learn. And you know what else? I never have heard about a masked gunman showing up to go crazy and then later learned that he grew up hunting

with a Daddy who loved him. 

Beyond that important safety issue, the immeasurable benefits of hunting while you grow up are useful in so many areas of life. My boys were fortunate to have a strong group of friends, even some of my husband’s friends from childhood and their own children, who hunted as a group for years.  Yes, they all had guns and arrows and yes, they killed animals; but in talking with them through the years I have learned that’s not what it’s all about for them. 

Not even close.  

Every hunter I’ve spoken to agrees (if you’ll allow me to speak Methodist here for a moment) it’s the Food, Fun and Fellowship part that keeps them coming back for more each year.  There’s something special about sitting around the campfire every night sharing stories of the day.  These men and their sons are joined by a kinship that can hardly be described outside the hunting camps they all frequent on a yearly basis. They can tell a funny story better than Jerry Clower.  They have survival skills that could rival Bear Grylls.  They love the land, and contrary to popular belief, they love the animals.  Were it not for their efforts to control population, the animals could not remain healthy and survive.

When you spend years at a time learning about a plot of land and gain an appreciation for your surroundings, you come to be one with nature and you feel closer to God.  Where else but in nature can you freely marvel at the glorious works of His hand.  To sit and watch un-noticed as a spotted fawn takes its first steps across the woods is a wonder to behold.  To quietly wait for a Turkey to cross your path—only to hear one in the distance and “communicate” with him as yougobble back and forth can be majestic.  To share that experience with your child as you sit together in complete silence is a feeling like no other.  To spend hours together in a tree stand or a duck blind or on stools out in a field as you watch the world around you take shape builds bonds that are seldom broken.

My husband and our son hunted together for many years and though it has been a long, long time since I gave my speech on guns—or since we all lived beneath the same roof—I know that the bonds they formed and the good times they shared and the lessons we’ve all learned will be etched in our minds forever.

In the end, I have learned when I see a big four wheel drive truck loaded down, covered in mud and headed into the woods not to assume it’s full of a bunch of crazy rednecks trying to stir up trouble and kill Bambi’s mother.  I have learned those trucks driving into the woods are usually full of folks headed out to build traditions that will last a lifetime.

P.S. Several of the men I know have daughters who hunt with them as well.

I think that is absolutely spectacular as the daddy/daughter relationship is one of the most important on earth.