BY SEAN GRAY
I can remember as a young boy always loving the outdoors – especially hunting. Today, this passion still follows me. Growing up, my parents always exposed my sister and me to the outdoors. We lived in Thunder Bay, Elliot Lake and Onaping Falls – all areas where outdoor life was at our fingertips.
I think hunting became an addiction for me in my twenties but began when I was around twelve. I was grouse hunting with my dad one day, and one popped out on the trail. My dad handed me a single shot 12 gauge, and I shot the bird. I remember being so proud of myself, having this sense come over me that I can’t explain. But since that day, I have participated in every hunting season that northern Ontario has to offer and would like to share why hunting is such a great tradition.
I believe that hunting and fishing allow individuals many opportunities to create unforgettable memories. I could sit here and write about all of the experiences I have had, but I do not have the space to do so. For me, it’s the camaraderie, the peace and solace, the beauty, the process, the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment that I get out of a successful hunting or fishing trip. Being able to feed my family organic meat and explaining to my kids where it comes from is also very important and rewarding.
Being part of a hunt/fish camp builds great memories, too. I have been part of a deer group where I get to hunt with my dad, my friends and my uncles. During our hunts, we build relationships and memories that will last forever. Every time I step into nature I see something beautiful. Whether it’s a stand of hemlocks blanketed in snow, an array of fall colours on a perfect October day, or the sound of a small stream running through an old growth forest.
The challenge may be what drives me the most – especially when we talk about big game animals. It’s not about walking out the door with a rifle and shooting an animal. It’s about educating yourself and taking the time to study a wide array of elements, many of which may take a lifetime to figure out. Hunting involves hard work, planning, patience and a lot of time in order give you a chance at success. I think with all the hustle and bustle of this world; we forget the importance of where our meat comes from and who got it for us.
I also believe that by hunting, our younger generations can gain a new appreciation for how important it is to understand the process of how food gets to our table. Hunting is not about shooting animals; it’s about sharing moments and continuing a heritage that began in Canada long ago. It’s about building relationships, hard work, dedication, sustainability, following rules and regulations and it’s about personal values.
Hunting has given me something to be passionate about, and I treasure every moment of every hunt. I absolutely cherish the time I get to spend with my friends and family and now get to do this with my kids. I get to pass down to my kids what has been passed down to me. All in all, hunting has become a lifestyle for me. I cannot imagine not having the opportunity to hunt and spend time in nature. It has become part of me, and my family and is something that we all appreciate.
My son has already become my apprentice and is only seven years old. He, like his sisters, loves the outdoors. He is about to experience his first spring bear hunt, and I am excited to share this with him.
At the end of the day, I think hunting can teach us a lot. I think it teaches us about life, about ourselves, and all of the things that make us better members of our society. So get into nature, experience what it has to offer, and be proud of our heritage