Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leave It Better Then You Found It.

   As a teen aged boy I began to teach myself to hunt, because my dad bailed and the other male influences in my life were not hunters. I learned to fish and I camped often as a child, so my love for the outdoors was already in my soul. I loved everything about the outdoors. The animals, the plants, the fish, the wind, and storms, the falling leaves, and the sunsets were all as much apart of me as the beat in my heart. But I knew something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on what it was until one fall morning when I went cottontail hunting with a friend. Lee my friend handed me a single shot 20 gauge and we headed out across a endless horse pasture with thousands of yucca plants. Lee walked up and kicked one of those yucca plants and out ran a cottontail. Lee lifted his shotgun and shot the rabbit on the first shot. Lee walked over picked up the rabbit and said to me "that's all there is to it" Lee could shoot like a champion. Lee pointed to my right and said" you walk over there and I will walk over here". As we began to walking across the pasture kicking yucca plants I would watch as Lee would lift his shot gun and shoot rabbit after rabbit. After about a 1/4 of a mile or so of walking Lee had already bagged 6 cottontail and I hadn't even seen a rabbit. Lee walked over to me and asked what was wrong, and then he noticed the drops of blood soaking through my pant legs from the sharp tips of the yucca plants. I told Lee this was not any fun and I wanted to go home. Lee looked at me and said "lets just try one more time" Lee began to explain in a little more detail that you just put your foot on the side of the plant and give it a hard push. So I walked up to the next yucca plant placed my foot low into the plant and gave it a firm push, and out ran a cottontail. I raised my gun to shoot, took aim, and pulled the trigger, I missed by a mile. I walked to several more yucca plant with no success. No rabbits, and sore legs, this hunting thing kinda sucks, I thought to myself. After Kicking several more plants I finally got another rabbit to come running out, of coarse I missed again. This was getting personal now, I was going to harvest one of those rabbits if it took me all day. I spent most of that afternoon missing rabbits and draining blood from my legs. On the way back to the car I kicked one last yucca plant and out came a rabbit, I raised my gun, took aim, and squeezed the trigger. Boom the gun went off and there in the dirt laid my first ever cottontail. I had done it. Walking over to that rabbit and picking it up must have been one of the happiest moments of my young life. We got in the truck and went home. Lee dropped me off at my house, I gathered up my rabbit and went inside the house holding the rabbit by the back legs. I showed momma my trophy. Momma told me to take it outside and clean it. After what seemed like forever I got the rabbit cleaned and took it back in the house and laid it in the sink. I begged momma to cook the rabbit up for me and she did. I enjoyed every piece of meat I could scrape off that rabbit. The next morning I was on the phone to Lee asking to go rabbit hunting with him again, and he agreed. When we arrived and the new hunting place I noticed alot of trash and beer cans laying on the ground. Lee got out of the truck and began picking up the cans. I jumped from the truck and started helping clean up the trash. After we cleaned up the trash we began our hunt. This time I faired pretty well taking home 4 rabbits of my own. I found the missing piece, hunting. From that day on all I could think about was going rabbit hunting. More importantly I learned 2 important lessons, first share the outdoors. Every person deserves a chance to experience harvesting, and feeding yourself with the bounty that God has given us. From life to death to life sustaining nourishment hunting is not brutal, but a way to provide for yourself or a family. Secondly was to leave the land better then when you found it. Some people didn't care that the trash they left was just going to sit a rot away on the land we are so blessed to hunt. We are responsible for the wildlife we hunt and the land where they live. These are life lessons that we can apply to every part of our lives. Take a child outdoors show them the value of the life we take. Teach them real conservation. Help them to understand our love for the land that so often sustains our lives. Let them join in the campfire stories. Be excited when they learn something new. Be patient and teach them. Love them every time they go outdoors with you. I promise, like the land where Lee and I picked up the trash. We can pick up a child and leave them better then we found them.
Written By; Phil McAmis

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