I had a special privilege to volunteer and guide several boys from the Austin area out for their first bird hunt at the Thumbtack Ranch in Batesville, Texas. In partnership from a grant from the Hill Country Quail Coalition, Trinity Oaks nonprofit was able to host six boys; ages 11-15, on an epic quail, chucker, and pheasant hunt a few months ago.
On day one of this event, six boys shot a shotgun for the first time, the second day they bird hunted for the first time, and in the evening they will have the opportunity to clean the birds and to eat what they shot. That is the headline right there, but the details of the process are incredible. For example, several of the kids would not even touch the dead birds at first, coated in dog saliva and feathers matted with a bit of blood.
Stereotypical city boys, nervous of a bit of dirt, yet I could hear them on the back of the truck talking about the Walking Dead TV series with grizzly details. I thought it was stunning how hunting and death could be so overwhelming, yet Hollywood's disturbing version was wholly benign and ordinary. Within a few hours, they are turning the dead birds over in their own hands, looking at the different types of feather structures on the wings, seeing how the tendons in the legs retracted the claws, asking about the different colorations of the species, and enjoying a dissections of the croup to see what the birds’ had last eaten. The cleaning and preparing the breasts to be eaten also was met with a bit of hesitation but fascinated them how quickly a bird becomes meat that looks similar to meat purchased at a grocery store. Again, it is in the details of the events and the moments that make the difference.
Hunting can teach critically important lessons about the value of all life. Today, many kids spend time with media that glamorize violence and cheapen the value of life. Hunting can teach us that all life is important and sacred. There is no greater way to learn about the dynamic systems of nature than by walking through the brush and examining things first hand. Learning to hunt responsibly and experiencing what it means to take an animal’s life can change a person for the better.
I am very proud to be the Executive Director of Trinity Oaks, a nonprofit based in San Antonio, Texas. For more information about Trinity Oaks, how you can get involved or get your kids involved, please, visit www.trinityoaks.org.