Sunday, February 18, 2007

Essay number 2 by Brandon McGuire

Brandon McGuire
February 2007

NWTF scholarship autobiography

Hunting started out as a way of life for early humans. The hunting and gathering methods of life were essential. Those traditions were passed down and I feel that as an American that tradition should be kept alive. Hunting is ethical and preserves the balance between us and nature. Every year that I buy a hunting license I am helping preserve land so that years later it will be available for the next generation to enjoy.
Hunting gives me a chance to sit in the woods and consider everything going on in my life. It is one of the most relaxing past times that anyone could ever enjoy. Every time I return from hunting life is easier. I am at ease and the pressures of going to school are lessened. I also feel that I am able to help provide for my family financially when I bring home food for the table. The meat that I am able to harvest is a blessing for my mother and I to enjoy. It is this food that saves money instead of buying processed meat from the grocery store. It tastes better when I know every step taken in processing the meat happened with my own hands.
I am not worried that I am eating something that was not properly taken care of. I process it all at home with my own grinder so I know there are not any pieces of tainted meat. It is healthier and less fatty than beef. I can cut it any way I want to. I can have a steak and not pay an outrageous amount for that particular cut of meat. The meat provided by hunting is a benefit that all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy if they would just take the time to learn how to hunt.
My great grandfather was a sharecropper in a rural community in North Carolina. Hunting helped supplement the food supply for his family of eleven children. My grandmother, whom I am very close with, was raised in the kind of atmosphere where hunting was appreciated. She has been very supportive of my hunting efforts. My Uncle Jimmy first took me out in the woods when I was eleven. Although that first day was not a success for harvesting an animal I was able to take what I learned that day and apply it to other hunting experiences.
It was his son, Steve Owens, who now works for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as a Biologist who got me involved on a firmer level by helping me participate in youth days events. I attended three Occoquan Bay day hunts, all of which I harvested a doe. On those hunts the participants were given special tags to take does which would not count as ones from their hunting licenses. As much as I would have liked to take a buck I did my part in conserving that environment. I was able to participate in several squirrel hunting workshops where I was taught about the lives of squirrels and their habits in hopes that in a few hours I would be able to harvest my own. A mentor was assigned to my mother and I and since then we have experimented with different cooking methods with the squirrels I have shot. My name was drawn for a special early spring turkey hunt after participating in an all day turkey hunting workshop in Charlottesville. My area showed active signs for turkeys. However, although we could hear their calls, I was unable to take a shot since I they did not come into view.
The National Wildlife Turkey Federation sponsored a Jakes event in Fredericksburg in 2004 where I met Kevin Paulson. He had a booth that offered information about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He was impressed with the efforts by my single mother to encourage my hunting experiences and offered to take me hunting. Since then Kevin has become my mentor, friend and has generously provided hunting gear and many hunting opportunities including a ten day elk hunting adventure this past October in Montana and is planning my first antelope hunt in September.
My family has a strong background in hunting and I wish to continue this tradition. I will pass down the knowledge of the benefits of hunting to my children in hopes that one day they will decide to participate in these types of important conservation efforts. I wish everyone could enjoy the opportunities that I have had and learn just how beneficial and fun hunting can be.