What Are You Hunting For?
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
I know that most blogs about outdoor life will stress the importance of getting outdoors with kids. After taking a week away from the blog, I wanted to come back with some interesting thoughts for you. This week, I’m going to highlight the importance of hunting for the hearts of your kids. While the outdoors is a great place for life lessons on many fronts, don’t make this the only avenue for speaking into your child’s life. Let’s be honest, as a dad and an outdoorsman, it can be easy to pour all of your time and influence into shaping your son or daughter in to someone who is comfortable and can thrive in the outdoors. I can’t really speak from the female perspective on this, so I won’t even attempt to. You are welcome, ladies.
Teaching your children to function well outside is super important, especially with a society that is becoming less and less interested in the outdoors. But, as a parent or grandparent, it’s also important to meet your kids where they are as well. Play a video game or board game with them. Watch a show that they are interested in. Technology isn’t the death of society, parents losing the hearts of their children is. Going to your local secret government supply chain disguised as a mega retail store? Take your kid. I know that you only need to get lightbulbs, but if you are going to stop by the sporting goods section to look anyway, walk through the toy section and let your kid do the same. Being purposeful in capturing the heart of your kid(s) is probably not the first thing on the minds of many men. I will say though, that it is odd that a man will put out game cameras to track the habits of deer, but can’t take time to know what is going on with their kids. Similarly, a man will plant patches of things that will draw the deer in and will spend tons of money feeding important minerals and protein so that the deer they intend to kill will grow as big and healthy as possible, but cannot be bothered to draw in their children and ensure that what they are consuming (on every level) will lead them to grow strong and healthy. What does it say if a man is more purposeful with something that he intends to kill, than he is with his own children?
As important as outdoor savvy is; your child is more important. What happens when your child doesn’t like to fish, or shoot, or hunt, or blow things up? First, you get them tested. Secondly, you find out what they are interested in. It can be difficult for a camo-clad, de-scented, manly, dad to connect with a phone-fused, highly scented, teenage, daughter. At times, connecting with your child in whatever stage of life they are in, can be difficult and trying. It may cause you to question whether that hunting trip is more important than staying home with your family. That is a good thing. With deer season in full swing, there are all too many families who have lost a parent for several months. Families are expected to just accept that this “is just the way it is.” No matter how strong the draw of nature is, no matter how many points that buck on your game camera has, no matter how many invitations you get to get in the stand, your family and children must be more important. Hunting for the heart of your child will always be the most important and rewarding thing that a man can do. Spend time cultivating a relationship with your child. If that means getting with them in the deer stand or under a tree, or in the boat; GREAT! If it means pushing yourself to connect with your child on their level, doing something they like, GREAT!
No one is particularly impressed with a man’s outdoor accomplishments as they are read at his funeral. What moves people are the lives that they touched. The sacrifices that are made for a man’s family will always outshine the time that he shot a huge buck. The thrill of hunting for the heart of your child will always be more invigorating and rewarding than claiming any trophy that can be had outdoors. The old saying is, “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” I’d encourage you to not confuse who you were meant to be, for what you like to do. Be an outdoorsman. Be a man. Be a hunter. But if you have been entrusted with children, be a dad first. Until next time, be safe and stay sharp!