October 1st, the beginning of Indiana’s hunting season; a three-month journey that I look forward to every year. You see, I was not raised hunting and did not experience my first hunt until I was twenty-eight years old. I was working in a General Motors factory and was in a department with a guy they called Rosy. He was an outgoing and very personable guy. Over the next couple of months, we created a friendship that is still going strong today.
He came to me one Thursday and said he was going to his family’s farm down south to check his game cameras and fill the feeders. He asked if I’d like to go, so of course I said yes. I had always loved the outdoors and playing in the woods as a kid, and it had been years since I had experienced that. We left that Friday for the two-hour trip down to his wonderful piece of property. It not only had acres upon acres of woods, but it also was home to a couple forty-acre fields where beans and corn resided. The “bunkhouse”, where we would be sleeping, was nothing but a small cement block building with a wood burning stove in it. It felt like home. We put our gear inside and immediately headed for the woods. The first thing I noticed was how manicured the trails in the woods were. It was a very nice, four-foot-wide path throughout the entire woods without a stick lingering on it. We went to multiple locations and started to empty the camera cards, then proceeded to fill the three feeders on the hunting property. As the day was winding down, we built a fire, cracked a couple of beers, and began discussing the basics of hunting. Over the next few hours he educated me on the multiple behaviors of deer, and that point was when I felt like I was started to get the bug. The next morning, we woke up and began to mow the area around the hunting cabin, and unfortunately it was time to leave. On our way home, he asked if I would like to try hunting this upcoming season. It did not take me long to answer, and of course, I told Rosy I would love to. He asked if I had a gun, and since I had enjoyed shooting guns since I was a small kid, I already had the right one to start hunting.
As we returned to work that Monday, Rosy brought in some hunting magazines that I couldn’t seem to put down. Over the next month I was itching to get back down to his farm and try this out for myself. It was November and opening day of gun season was the upcoming weekend. I was so excited and could not wait to try this out. Now a couple of things I must point out, first, no one told me how cold it would be sitting still in a tree stand in the middle of winter. Second, I did not have the correct hunting gear to keep me warm. At this point in my hunting adventure, I was wearing extra clothing from the other three guys that came with us and nothing fit correctly. The first morning of deer season was here and Rosy made sure we left early enough for him to walk me to my stand and make sure I was safe before he went off to his. I was sitting for about thirty minutes when I had two deer walk right under me, and boy, was that exciting! I shot the second deer I saw, which was a doe (a female), and dropped it. I was so excited that I was able to not only get a clean kill, but I now had some meat for the freezer. Later in my hunting adventures I did not realize just how lucky I was to have those deer come by me and allow me the shot. Boy, was that day a celebration for everyone at the camp. At the time, I felt that the only thing that mattered to all four seasoned hunters with “It’s not always about getting a deer Bobby. It’s about the enjoyment of the woods.” me was the fact that I was able to harvest my own deer.
This was my first peek into what the hunting community is all about. You see, what was so interesting to me was that all they really cared about was for me to have a great first experience hunting. To this day, I am still very thankful for all those guys in the camp for the camaraderie and pitching in to loan me some of their extra clothing for the hunt that day. After we recovered my doe, got it cleaned up and taken to the processor, I was still on cloud nine. The next day, I went back to sit in the stand thinking, “I am shooting a buck today”… Well that was not the way it worked. I didn’t see a single thing that day. When I came in at dark, one of the older guys asked “I had theme if I had a good “sit.” I thought for a second, and replied, “No. I didn’t see anything.” He quickly corrected me with something I will never forget. He said, “It’s not always about getting a deer Bobby. It’s about the enjoyment of the woods.” That night, while laying in my sleeping bag, I kept thinking about his words. He was right. I had the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife, and had some quiet peaceful time while sitting in the stand. As the weekend came to a close, I thanked everyone in camp for sharing their clothes with me, and inviting to be a had some part of the group for opening weekend. I could not stop thinking about the awesome feeling I had while in the tree stand. Rosy and my friendship continued quite peaceful time while in the stand” to grow, and I continued to join him for trips down south on a regular basis to help with feeders and changing camera batteries. Before I knew it, we were already into hunting season opening weekend again. The usual guys returned, and welcomed me once again. This trip I was a little more prepared and had purchased myself a few pieces of warm clothing for hunting. The weekend passed by, and I didn’t see any deer, but still managed to have such an amazing time with the guys nonetheless. But, our time came to an end again, and we said our goodbyes until the next year.
After seven wonderful seasons of hunting with Rosy and the gang, we unfortunately all lost our jobs due to the plant closing. Rosy decided to transfer with the company, and I decided to start my own business and not follow the GM path. Since we are in different parts of the world, and both had families of our own, we didn’t make it up to the farm the next year. The following year, I decided to try and lease the land with some of the hunting gang. We were able to find two hundred acres in southern Indiana, so we pulled the trigger. In the first seven years of hunting, I tried to gather every bit of knowledge I could from the experienced hunters I knew. With the limited knowledge we had as a group, we started trying to manage our lease property to produce mature whitetails. Three years into the lease, the old farmer we leased the ground from passed away and we were notified by his kids that they would be selling off the land. We scrambled to look for another lease, and one of my buddies ran into a perfect piece of property: five hundred and fifty acres in southern Indiana. It came with a hefty price tag for the lease, but we were able to get six of us together to split the payment. We are now in our sixth-year hunting at the large farm we lease, and we’re able to see a change in what we are doing for the deer herd.
I wanted to share my story about how I fell in love with hunting and the outdoors because no ma er what your hobby or passion is, you always need someone to show you the way. I would have never known my love for hunting if it were not for Rosy asking me to come down to his family farm to try it out. Since hunting my own leases, some of the other guys and I always try to bring someone new with us each year so we might be able to share the beauty and our passion for the outdoors and hunting. I have had the pleasure to be with many old and young men when they have taken their first deer, and wow, what a feeling! I urge each person that reads this to share a little of your passions with someone, and you might be surprised how it can effect them for the rest of their lives. I don’t get the opportunity to see Rosy that often anymore, but I will never forget how a kind invitation to a weekend trip years ago spurred friendships, an appreciation for the still, quiet moments in life, and a passion for hunting.