Where do I begin? Coming from a family who doesn’t hunt, we were somewhat taken off guard by Ty’s interest in hunting. We weren’t against it at all, but we didn’t know anything about it. My husband and brother-in-law did some 3-D target shooting with their bows but that was the extent of it. Ty had friends who grew up around active hunters so from them he got some information. Ty was persistent on getting his hunting licence. It’s all he wanted. Still not knowing what he would do with it when he got it or if he would ever go as a youth, with much persuasion, we gave in. Best thing we did.
We were given Tedd’s contact information from a mutual acquaintance and a few months after talking with him, he was at our kitchen table setting Ty up with Alberta RELM and giving us information we needed to help Ty. He suggested Ty attend the Annual Taber Pheasant Festival. Surprisingly I’d heard about this event, and after doing our homework, and with much anticipation, we were driving out to our first hunt.
The drive out went fast. We listened to loud music, sang to some good old country music, and talked a bit about what we were expecting from today’s event. I was given firm instructions that I couldn’t take pictures of every little thing and there was to be no hugging in front of people.
In short spurts of silence, I couldn’t help but to think about his feelings if he missed, or his feelings if he DIDN’T miss. How would I react to the shooting of these birds? Could I pull off a convincing face of pride when he looked at me? So many thoughts in such a short period of time.
Pulling into the field of just a few vehicles, we were both kind of confused. Not sure exactly why, but I think we thought there was supposed to be more to it. After about 30 minutes, we went out and found Tedd who told us where to start.
Ty got his name checked off and then we had to wait for further instructions. As the day went on and the weather changed from cold and windy to windy and rainy, I really got to observe the friendliness, patience, organization, and professionalism of all the people attending as well as all the volunteers and mentors that support these kinds of things for newbies like Ty and me.
It was a long day for sure, but a day I wouldn’t trade for anything. We stood in line to practice clay target shooting only to be called in for lunch as the weather started to get a little worse. They provided us with a shelter and a warm lunch that was quick and delicious. Ty was back in line to shoot some targets and before we knew it, he was walking towards the truck with the pheasants, ready to do what he came to do.
I was so excited for him. I couldn’t help myself, I had my camera out so fast taking pictures and video as he was walking away. Watching with anticipation, all of a sudden I hear bang… bang… bang. Honestly, I didn’t know what happened. Did he get one? Did he miss? Well, as he got closer I saw that smile in his eyes and my face was an honest face of pride. I had to contain myself from hugging him and kissing him so I gave him a big smile along with a motherly fist bump.
After a while of standing in line to shoot his second bird, the volunteers announced that there were no more pheasants to release. We were ready to head home with the one and that was ok, but with my surprise Ty was offered the opportunity to go out with three other volunteers and a dog to hunt his second bird. This was a different way than he did his first one though. It was more real. I was way nervous. This time I got to follow them through the tall grass and watch as the dog would flush out the birds that got away and the guys would aim and shoot. So cool to see the process up close. I’m not sure if I even really watched Ty get his second bird. I saw it, but it I was more engaged in how the other hunters walked Ty through it. I noticed how these men talked to him like he belonged there and the way they treated me with respect.
I’m not the best at putting it all on paper but it’s a day that I will never forget. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I got to share with Ty and the experience of pheasant hunting that Ty was given.
Thank you to all who are involved in making things like this happen for our youth and for the professionalism, knowledge, and strictness everyone provided to help us newbies feel at ease and confident.