Hunting: A Rite of Passage

Hunting offers the opportunity for both solitude and camaraderie.

| November/December 2016

Hunting, for the Regan boys, was a rite of passage. For years, I walked behind my Uncle Fred, dad, and brothers carrying most times nothing, but occasionally an unloaded BB gun. I served more as bird dog than anything else, staying out of the way — at times learning to properly carry a firearm — and walking mile after mile alongside my elders as they pursued the bobwhite quail in southeast Kansas.

That all changed when I was 8 or 9, old enough to read and therefore take the hunter’s education course offered about 10 miles from our farmhouse in Uniontown, Kansas, a town of 250 or so people where we attended elementary school.

Finally, I could carry a real shotgun and hunt with the men. I still remember that first hunt, and I remember Uncle Fred showing me how to clean a quail.

My dad never hunted, at least in terms of carrying a gun and taking aim at prey. I simply don’t think he liked to kill, but he understood the importance of it and raised us with an appreciation for the outdoors in general, and especially for hunting and fishing. When we were without a bird dog, Dad would invariably end up in the middle of the hedgerow, trying to flush out any bobwhites that he could. If all else failed, he’d throw hedge apples up into the air for target practice.

Sadly, once I was about high school age, the bobwhite quail population in our part of the state plummeted. No longer would you see guys out walking fields in brush pants and orange bird hunting vests. Seldom did you even see bird dogs.

Luckily, I had older brothers and a couple of good friends in high school that got me into duck hunting, and then later in college I bought a bow, and the archery whitetail season has been an obsession ever since.

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