You all know the saying – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But this old ‘dog’ was determined to prove that saying wrong.
At 45 years old, having never hunted, I decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and become a hunter myself.
Don’t get me wrong – I was not completely new to hunting. I worked in a hunting company and had been surrounded by my hunting family for years but my role usually revolved around cooking the game my family brought home.
If I did accompany them on a hunt, it was only ever as a spectator.
I had never pulled the trigger myself or taken an animal’s life – and to be honest, I didn’t think I ever would.
The first time I picked up a firearm was at an open day at our local shooting range. My husband and kids were trying out skeet shooting for the first time and dared me to have a go. I took one shot (missing everything BTW), was completely unprepared for the recoil, and shied away, vowing to never pick up a firearm again. I even convinced myself I was too vertically challenged to learn to hunt (I’m rather short, particularly in the arm region).
But then my husband and I started a Keto diet and upped our fitness regime (hubby was pretty keen to get in shape before he returned to hunt in New Zealand), which meant I was pretty keen to get outdoors as much as I could. I accompanied him along to the range where he was testing some of his rifles. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to have a go. I was a little nervous (once kicked, twice shy and all that), but he convinced me it would be different this time.
You might say it was second time lucky.
For starters, it was a rifle instead of a shotgun, and I’d be shooting off a bench instead of freehand. So I stepped right up and had a go.
The target was a 75mm Bisalloy 500 Armour Plate at 100 yards – so not the biggest target to aim for. But I sighted it in, gently squeezed the trigger and braced for the kick…
But what I felt instead was an intense rush of adrenalin as I heard an unmistakeable ‘ping’ of metal hitting metal!
I couldn’t believe it. I’d actually hit the target. I had to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke, so I lined it up again and ‘ping’ I hit the target again. I did miss the third time, but as Meatloaf so eloquently said, ‘Two out of three ain’t bad!’
Anyway, I reluctantly handed the rifle back and went back to spectating, not realising that something so inane and simple had planted a tiny little seed that would sprout and grow over the coming months.
My first taste of real hunting
Fast forward to April and the start of our New Zealand hunting trip (the one hubby had been working so hard towards). I accepted years ago that hunting was going to form at least some part of every family holiday. I’d also accepted that my role during the hunt was to keep my grandson entertained while everyone else went off hunting, and to make sure the fire was stoked and warm for when they returned.
But remember that seed? Well, unbeknown to me, it had been growing beneath the surface and had finally decided to pop it’s head up.
One afternoon, as my family reminisced about their early morning hunt, I felt this overwhelming desire to be up there on the hills with them, hearing the big red stags roar for myself. I even found myself wanting to climb the massive hills that surround the sheep station where the outfitter is located.
Unfortunately, with four hunters in our party trying to get stags, there wasn’t enough time for me to actually accompany them on a hunt. But on the last afternoon, once everyone had their stags on the ground, I did manage to wrangle a trip up to the top of the hills with the guide in the 4×4 and hear those red stags roaring, and the fallows croaking in the valley below us. In that moment, I decided I was ready to become a hunter myself.
Taking the next step
As soon as we got back to Australia, I took the first step in that direction, applying for my firearms license with Services Tasmania.
It took a few months but I did eventually get my license and get the green light to become a hunter myself. You can read about my first experience hunting here.
How old where you when you first learned to hunt?
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