My story growing up did not include dirt roads, deer stands or any real interaction with guns. While my Dad hunted a handful of times, my exposure to hunting was very limited. Shortly after college when I met my husband, we were both consumed by our careers. Then, children came along and the margin in our lives shrunk even more. When our oldest was around two, my husband joined a hunting club. He loved going whether it was to hunt, ride four-wheelers or just walk in the woods. He also loved to take the kids. At that time, I didn’t want anything to do with it. As the saying goes, “When I said I do, I didn’t know about deer season” rang true for us! Over many, many, years his love became mine. I don’t want to over simplify the long journey of transformation in both of us but, through God’s grace, what we used to fight about began to unite us!
About nine months out of the year you can find us on the grounds of our Hunting Club on any given weekend. Our family loves being there. This will be my third season deer hunting. In the last two years, I have sat countless hours, missed a few deer and killed a few wild hogs along the way all while using my 9 year old’s single shot rifle. From the stand, my marriage has been saved, my family has been united and my love of hunting was born. But, when this journey started many years ago, I was terrified of guns.
Today, I purchased my very first rifle. I found myself hesitant to share. But, the thought occurred to me that it might be important to talk about it. While I respect other opinions, who don’t agree with my purchase or even with hunting, maybe more stories need to be told of how this sport, including the guns that accompany it, can unite people.
In 2013, my husband and I went through the required training to receive our concealed weapons permit. I did this not because I wanted to carry, but because I wanted to learn what I could about gun laws, gun safety, and even how to simply identify if a gun was ready to fire. I also did it to face my fear of guns. As I learned more about guns, I began to understand that my fear was rooted in what I did not know about them and the horrible misuse of them. I can so relate to something the author/speaker, Jen Hatmaker said in 2017 in response to the horrific misuse of guns, “I’m too tired to debate, so I won’t do it. I’m just going to speak to those of you who want to see common sense gun reform. Not take all the guns. Not abolish the 2nd amendment… I just want basic common sense reform. I am a hunter’s daughter, a hunter’s wife, and the mom of three hunters. I am sending a son to college for Wildlife Management. I am not anti-gun. I am anti-gun violence.”
I share all of this to say that several years ago, I wanted nothing to do with guns. Now, as I enter my third deer season, I know the countless hours that have gone into the hunt. The pre and post season work, research and time on the gun range. And, I know the gun in my hands is held with the utmost care and respect.