Hunting with my family

Now that the Bassmaster Elite Series tour is over, I’m enjoying my vacation season and everyone who knows me understands that I’m talking about deer season. Oklahoma’s season opened Oct. 1, and I was ready to go as soon as they opened the gate.

Most years, the first 10 days of deer season in Oklahoma are pretty slow and that’s heavily determined by weather. It’s been hot, so we’re starting off slow, but I’ve been out every day.

Before the season opened, I spent a week getting things ready. I was working on stands, mowing food plots, clearing trails to make it easier for my kids to get in and out — things I should’ve done over the summer, but I was gone.

This year’s going to have a lot of the same elements as last year. I’m using the same bow, we’re hunting the same general areas and my family will take a trip out to Kansas later in the season.

The big difference will be my oldest daughter Aly’s new schedule. She starting her freshman year at Oklahoma Christian University, and her commitments to the basketball program will take up most of her time this fall.

We’re all going to make some adjustments this year because we go to as many of her games as possible and now, it’s not like it was in high school when we’d drive maybe 30 minutes to a game. For college games, a lot of them will be five to eight hours away — we’ll actually fly to some of them.

All of this will cut into our family hunting time, and I don’t think Aly will have much opportunity to hunt this season. But, of course, we don’t mind at all. We’re as proud as we can be, so we’ll make whatever adjustments we need to make. 

I mean, I remember how it was when I played ball; I was gone a lot, too. Aly recently told me she won’t be able to come home for Thanksgiving because she’ll have a tournament that week. I had the same thing during my college years. So, as a dad, I don’t like her being away, but I understand and fully support my daughter.

I’ll definitely think about Aly a lot while I’m in my stand this season. She’s hunted with me since she was about 8 years old, but in recent years, she didn’t hunt as much as my other two girls because of her high school games. When she did, she really enjoyed it. I think it always meant a lot to her because she had fewer opportunities.

My middle and youngest daughters will spend a lot of time hunting with me this year, so with Aly away, I’ll spend more time with them and my wife. I typically hunt hard during the week and then on the weekends, I cater to my family.

Overall, this will be a year of transition year for me. She gets to come home on the weekends, but once basketball starts, she may not be able to come home as much. 

I’m happy that we’ve been able to enjoy a lot of time hunting together. These memories are what gets you through the times when you’re missing someone.

I think they also give you hope for the next time you can hunt together.