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Love You Deerly, Dad

Written by Jessi Cole, daughter of Bobby Cole

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Growing up as the daughter of a hunter entails quality time spent in the woods, dinner talk about the latest hunting adventure, and a whole lot of camouflage. More often than not, we daughters find ourselves tagging along on hunting trips and becoming pretty good hunters ourselves, and we sure can make some boys jealous. Though we may not always get the big buck we hope for, we always end up bagging the best trophy- the irreplaceable memories made with our dads.  

I probably know more about wild animals and the best approaches to killing them than any normal teenage girl should. My dad always encouraged hunting, but he never pushed it. So, I ended up really enjoying the sport. For my high school graduation, I was even given a personalized gun dipped in Mossy Oak’s Bottomland pattern. (I was hoping for some jewelry, to be honest.) Though I may end up far away from my small hometown, I’ll never stop suiting up in my best camouflage and enjoying a peaceful day in the woods with my dad. Maybe it’s just the Mississippi in me. 

The friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the hunting world helped shape me into the person I am today. The camaraderie of hunters always astounded me. They always seemed to support each other and celebrate the success of others, even when they hadn’t had much luck themselves. 

After school, I would go to my dad’s office and sit on his camouflage couch and listen to his friends and him joke around. His friends were always there for me, even if it meant having to sit through my high school graduation. I really do think those guys would do just about anything for each other. Growing up around Dad and his friends helped keep me down to earth and realize the meaning of friendship and kindness.

Jessi_llThen, there was the hunt itself. Dad did all the real work, and my job was just simply to shoot the deer.  He had to have been patient to listen to me complain of boredom or the cold and shift around loudly in the stand. And there probably wasn’t a twig in the woods that I didn’t step on. He never gave me any indication that I was being difficult, though. Dad and I would sit in the stand, chatting about school or work, and sometimes we sat just in silence. When we were hunting, the only thing we had to do was talk to each other. The easy distractions of life were nonexistent in the woods, and those are probably some of the best conversations we’ve ever had.

I grew older, and the hunting trips grew less frequent as we tried to find time in between sports, clubs, homework, and friends. Now that I’m in college and no longer living at home, the trips are even rarer. But, when we do go, I remember how special it feels to sit and enjoy the woods with my dad. I’ll never forget the time when we were sitting out open in the woods, and a deer walked within ten feet of us. Both shocked, the deer and I stared at each other, the whole forest seeming to hold its breath. She then calmly walked away and disappeared into the woods, leaving my dad and me to excitedly discuss the astonishing event. In that moment, I not only fully appreciated the beauty of the animals we hunted, but also the unforgettable moments of awe and triumph that I have shared with my dad because of the woods. 

To daughters of hunters - don’t miss out on these moments. Go hunting with your dad and listen to his stories no matter how many times he has told the same old story or how exaggerated the tale may be. Trust me; you won’t regret the afternoons spent talking to your dad. You really have no idea how happy he is to have you there. And do yourselves a favor and turn your phone off when you’re in the woods. Take in the scenery, the fresh air, and the conversations. Your dad will always be the most constant guy in your life. 

And to the dads - have patience. She may not want to go with you every time you ask, and when she does go I can guarantee that she will be loud enough to scare at least a few deer away. Listen to her talk about the drama at school or the latest boy band, no matter how much you’d rather just listen for deer. Laugh and enjoy every fleeting second, and always remember that she grows up fast. 

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