Her fresh view and enthusiasm for shooting, hunting — everything wild — was engaging and contagious.
Kristen Monroe, a 30-something mom from Wisconsin, recently found shooting, hunting and outdoor communications. Observing her, I looked back with some envy and admiration. I remembered my early days as a hunter, when I was about Kristen’s age.
I considered how I’d like to go back – wondered how 57 ever came to be. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m part of the old hunters club.” I loved it. I considered the opportunity to share some advice about hunting and communications, sage I hoped, with this gal, who I once was.
During a 90-minute drive from the Corpus Christie, Texas, airport to Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift, Texas, Kristen offered her reason for wanting to learn to hunt, which she began to do just two years ago. It was for her kids, she said.
“There’s just no interaction between parents and kids anymore, and hunting promotes interaction,” she said. “I want this for my children more than for myself.” But her smile, when she thought of shooting her first duck the next day, revealed her selfish love of hunting too. I was grateful that this duck hunt (my first real duck hunt too) would be shared with her.
Recently, day-to-day stresses had taken their toll. A dimmed zest for 3 a.m. wakeups, long days afield, interviewing, shooting hundreds of images and cranking out content had me down. Kristen lifted me back up. The bounce in her step at 3:45 a.m. combined with an electric smile were a slap across the face. Because of an injury, too much time had passed since I last donned hunting gear. I’d almost forgotten the rush of adrenaline, the vibration of anticipation, the bliss of learning and the ripe delight of success.
Bay Flats guide David McCullough and Chris Jennings with Ducks Unlimited were our hunting hosts. The veteran duck hunters weren’t immune. Kristen infected them too. They were uplifted. I could see their hearts sing when she shot her first duck, a nice pintail drake.
Moral: Although mentors are the teachers of future generations of hunters, anglers and shooters, they’re often not the ones who give the most. A student or novice, given an outdoor opportunity, is many times the one who delivers the most precious gifts.