Back then it was all about the harvest. If we didn't kill anything then it wasn't a good trip. Not that my dad or brother felt that way. No matter how the weekend count ended up, they always seemed satisifed and content as we would roll out of camp on Sunday afternoon for the drive home. I never could figure out why they weren't complaining. Dad always commented on how perfectly happy he was to simply be out with 'his boys' - no matter if we brought supper home or not.
As a young stud full of pee and vinegar, I focused on killing - that's just how boys are wired. Its that testosterone thing. But as I grew older something in the noggin started to think differently about our days afield. I too began to simply enjoy the experience of being out with Pops and Bro, no matter if anything was in the game pouch. The shift was based on experiences and time. It wasn't like the skys opened up and angels bopped me on the head while sitting next to a tree waiting for a big Mulie. Rather, it was a gradual shift in my perspective on why we hunt, not the hunt itself. What's that? Why yes, I think you're right, I believe the word for it is "maturity".
Fast forward to today, and that gradual shift in my mind is now a part of my soul. It is who I am. With two little ones of my own (ages 6 and 8), I am loving these last few years of getting them involved in hunting. Both my son and my daughter are very interested and beg me to let them come along. The Boy is really excited as he anxiously anticipates his hunter safety test later this sumer.
I love imagining what it is going to be like when he too gets to hold that same marriage of cold steel and walnut on the first frosty morning in the duck blind this October. I'll bet he judges success on that day by the number of ducks on the strap. But I'm sure that I will be satisifed and content no matter what.
This is why we hunt, eat and live!