A Junior No More

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I’m more sorry than usual to see this hunting season end. I imagine it has a lot to do with the fact that next year I’ll be hunting with an “adult.” Or at least, a 16 year old with an adult hunting license. This was my son Griff’s last year as a junior hunter.

I’ll admit, I’m not looking forward to his hunting license costing more next year, or having to pay for him to hunt the refuges, but that’s not what’s making it harder to say goodbye to this season. I’d like to say I’ll miss the advantage that camp folklore says juniors have in the reservation draws, but don’t recall experiencing it.

In fact, I should be happy to be gaining an adult partner. There are quite a few benefits, after all. Grown up kids can carry more gear. And they can help drive, which is a real bonus, whether mom and dad want an extra glass of wine with dinner or dad just needs a nap on the way back from Delevan or Tule Lake.

Not that Griff has seemed like much of a junior lately. He’s 6’2,” shoots and calls better than many grown-ups, and has his own good ideas about how to play the waterfowling game. Still, in my mind, I’ve had a kid with me all of these past six seasons. When there’s no one left to shepherd, I guess it’s time to become something else.

Not that my charge card won’t still be needed, for that next gotta-have item at Cabela’s or Bass Pro. But I know Griff can pull off a good hunt now all by himself. Sure, he’ll forget that extra pair of socks or a sandwich, but him being cold or hungry always bothered me more than it did him anyway.

I will miss the juniors-only hunt, which has always been my favorite weekend every season. People have worked so hard to help us have a good time. I guess we’ll try to repay the favor, and recapture the thrill of those first few junior adventures, by helping other young hunters next year.

The seasons since Griff and his older brother Gray had their first hunt in 2002 have been filled with amazing moments of discovery and learning, about wild game and ourselves. That will go on, I’m sure. On that first outing, true to their personalities, Gray approached it with great care and precision, but eventually lost interest in hunting. Griffin stepped onto that brushy field with a quietly gleaming passion that I’ve yet to see wane.

I’m glad Gray, and the boys’ mom Pamela, came along on this last junior hunt. Looking at the photo of Griff and Gray, it reminded me of their first hunting picture. Then they were young, hunting birds that were planted and hesitant. Now the boys are grown up, pretty much, and the two birds Griff worked all day to get were wild and mature. And that’s a fitting end to a last season as a junior hunter.

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~ by zenhunter on February 7, 2008.

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