Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Since I was so young I wanted to spend every second I could outside, whether that was going camping, boating, horseback riding, traveling, or just wandering around. And from that young age, my interest for hunting started from watching shows about Mountain Men and Native Americans. I was fascinated by that lifestyle of surviving with what the world gave you.
Now, I didn't come from a hunting background. In fact I didn't even go hunting until I was almost 18. But, I've always loved the outdoors and the wildlife. I also grew up riding horses and going on trail rides, exploring the beautiful Idaho & Montana countryside every chance I could. Growing up, I was also constantly drawing. I would draw things I was very passionate about; wildlife and horses.
Eventually that led into me starting my art business which has been a very hard yet rewarding.
At the age of 16 I heavily started drawing wildlife, as my passion for hunting began to grow. I wanted to know more, but felt stuck since I didn't have anyone to teach me or show me how to get into it. However, my passion began to grow so strong that I found a way. It began by going to Hunt Expos on my own, asking people about it, making friends who hunted, just hiking the hills, watching wild animals for hours, doing my research about hunting ethics, conservation and anything else I could find.
I basically started by hitting the hills in search of antlers. It was one of the first things I started doing. I had some friends who took me out and showed me the ropes. I began learning the land and where animals would go during the late winter and early spring months. It was so recharging to go and hike the mountains, even though the weather was typically unforgiving that time of year, especially in Idaho.
Every chance I had to get out and hike and meet new people with the same passions, I took it. Meeting some of the right people really helped me get my foot into the door of hunting.
I'd often wandered the hills with just my dog and spend days covering miles and miles just looking for horns. I found so much peace and comfort in it even though it was usually quite physically exhausting.
I remember one of my first hunting memories was climbing up this huge mountain peak in search of mule deer. It was the first year I ever held a tag in my pocket and I was determined to fill it. The amount of miles, and STEEP miles I went was ridiculous. My body wasn't conditioned, I was unknowledgeable on where the deer would be, I felt like giving up constantly, but I kept pushing. The entire season went by without any luck, but on the last day I spotted some deer off the road on private ground. I went and asked the owner for permission to hunt and they accepted and ended up harvesting my first deer. Pretty silly to waste all my time hiking up gnarly mountains just to end up shooting one 400 yards off the road, right? No. I didn't think so. I learned things that I never would have otherwise if I hadn't spent all those days and miles wandering around up in the mountains. And it made me appreciate harvesting that deer that much more.
I can just remember the feeling, sitting on top of the mountain looking down at the lake out clouds that covered the valley floor. It felt so right and filled a hole that I had in my heart for so many years of my life. I remember thinking, "This is it. This is who I am."
Before I got into hunting, I was confused with who I was. I struggled with many things, went through many bad experiences and trials. I was lost. Hunting was always something that called to me, but always had trouble finding my way to it. It's always hard to know where to start. But once I found it, it changed me forever. It helped me find myself, by finding me.
From the moment I harvested my first deer, I was flooded with feelings and emotions that I never got anywhere else. The feelings of accomplishment, self-providing, humility, love and respect for the wild game, connections to my ancestry and a connection to something greater.
The ability to be able to go out and pursue wild game is something I am so incredibly grateful for. There is so much that goes into it that makes it much more of a lifestyle than a hobby. It's extremely raw and an even greater challenge. And the food that comes from it is amongst the best in the world.
Hunter by choice, and proud to be one.