More to the Story: Hunting & Outdoor Life
Reporting by Adelaide Barlow, Dorothy Piech, and Michel-Ange Townsend
Photos by Dean Simons
What kind of outdoor hobbies and pursuits do you have and how did you get into it?
“Hunting; my dad was a hunter, my grandfather was a hunter. Pretty much all of my dad’s side of the family hunted and I’ve just been exposed to it since I was a little kid.” Wyatt Ribble•12
“I do archery and firearm hunting. I hike a little bit and take pictures of animals too.” McKenna Clark•10
“My dad’s side has always been big in hunting and my mom’s side was always big in fishing so I kind of got the best of both worlds.” Ethan Hurd•12
“We live out in the country so I go fishing a lot. Ice fishing, regular season fishing, it’s just something that I grew up doing because it was in my life. I also do a lot of hiking, biking and camping.”Madelynn Parsons•10
What do you think is the best part of outdoor life?
“The adrenaline when you actually make a kill. When you kill your first animal or just in general, you feel so happy and proud that you can do something and be blessed. It’s not just I go out there and I kill an animal, it is luck. You have to be very, very lucky to have an opportunity to kill an animal.” WR
“The scenery and seeing all the animals just do their thing. It’s nice to relax sometimes but being outside, you can do anything and go on adventures.” MC
“I love the sounds, the feeling of fresh air, and getting out of
confined spaces.” MP
What stereotypes or perceptions do you hear frequently ?
“That there’s just a bunch of old men going out and fishing for bass or something, but everybody does it.” MP
“That we harm animals and that it’s not ethical. It’s very ethical as long as you’re doing it right and you’re going by the rules that are set.” MC
“Everyone always has opinions on hunting with Armalite Rifles (AR), but I don’t think it’s necessary to have an AR in the woods. They always say, the ‘hillbillies and rednecks’ are always talking about ‘AR this, AR that’, but I think it’s completely unethical to be out there just spraying and praying.” EH
What does hunting the right way look like?
“It helps to buy good equipment, so when you do get the opportunity to shoot something, it’s a good kill and the animal dies within 10 to 15 seconds; it does not feel a thing. It’s very humane, but a lot of people don’t understand that.” EH
“I always try to make sure that I have a good shot at the animal before I even think about shooting it or taking the safety off. It’s really important to me to not get a gut shot or hurt the animal at all. I shoot deer behind their front legs, I won’t shoot them in the head at all. When deer hear a gun, they drop a little bit so if you go for the head that could be really painful if you don’t hit them well. So I go right behind their leg at their lungs, and I try to treat the animal with respect. My first time going hunting by myself, I shot this deer and it was a smaller one. It was really hard for me because I felt so bad afterwards, but it reminded me that I should learn how to tell the size of deer better. I also think if a hunter hits a deer and it’s not a good shot, they should put it out of its misery or always try to hit it somewhere like the lungs or the heart to treat the deer with respect.” MC
What kind of equipment do you use? How do you maintain it?
“When you’re doing archery, depending on where and what you’re hunting, your equipment changes. So for around here, you have deer and bear which use the same calibers and arrow setups. There’s laws regulating what calibers and size broadheads you can use; the bigger broadhead, the bigger the hole and they die faster. A lot of people use 308s, 243s and 270s for rifle hunting, and those are pretty big rounds. It’s a lot different than a bow because it’s not as big of a hole but it does a lot more damage when it goes in and the shock takes care of the animal really fast.” EH
“Cleaning your gun regularly, making sure you have tags and your license is up to date, and if you own land, keeping it safe and maintained.” MC
How does your choice of equipment change your practice and mindset?
“When I’m duck hunting, I have a semi-automatic shotgun. If I don’t hit the duck the first time, I shoot at it another time. I feel if I’d hunted with, say, a pump gun and taken the time to put the shell in, I’d take my time. You get better shots when you have fewer bullets because you’re focusing on your shot. If you have more bullets you shoot at the animal more, and when you have one bullet you’re like ‘Alright, I need to make the shot count’.” EH
What do you change when considering the type of fish you’re going for, or different types of fishing techniques?
“I choose different types of bait, lures, and other things. Bass, for instance, have different lures than ocean fish. I haven’t gone fishing in the ocean, but I know the lures are a lot bigger because the fish are a lot bigger. There are different techniques too, like for salmon, you have chest waders so you can actually get deeper in the water. There are different methods like fly fishing, and some people go in with their hands, grabbing fish. There are definitely a lot of things others do that I have not done.”MP
What family traditions do you have associated with hunting?
“Mounting bucks with the head and the whole hide on it is a lot of money, so usually people wait until they get a big buck. Instead of that, we take the deer’s head and hang them up in a tree, we have a specific tree, until all the meat falls away. Then we clean it and we dip it in spray paint on water and it colors the skull; it just makes it look so cool.” MC
“The tradition for me is skipping school on April 1 to go trout fishing with my dad. We do the same with deer season. If it’s the first day of deer season during the week and I have school, I’m skipping that day and going hunting.” WR
What kind of dedication does it take to be successful as a hunter?
“If you’re really into it, the time you put into it is not just going out there for 20 minutes and shooting something. It’s hours, days, weeks, and months spent preparing. Taking time and hanging tree stands, putting food plots, and doing landscaping is a lot of work. It’s always good to finally see success.” EH
Can you describe your first kill or catch?
“I got my first deer kill when I was 11 in Pennsylvania. I remember playing on my iPad, my dad was yelling at me because of the brightness, and I eventually fell asleep. My dad woke me up, and he’s like ‘Get the gun out the window and see if you can see it through the sight’. I’m looking, and he says, ‘Don’t move, there’s a buck’. I don’t move, and I kid you not, this deer walks right into my crosshairs. He is like ‘You want to shoot it? Shoot it’. And bang, that was my first ever kill.” EH
“I remember we were at my dad’s friend’s property and I was sitting with my dad in a tree stand. I had my gun and this giant group of seven to ten deer came walking through and all of them were surrounding us so I had to be really still. I got the biggest doe of them all and it was my first year.” MC
“My first big catch was when I was little, and it was a carp. It was definitely over a foot long. Nobody was watching the pole at the time, it had a bell on it and it flung out of the holder and my dad went running down. He jumped in the water and I got to reel it in with my dad’s help.” MP
What are your thoughts on hunting and fishing regulations?
“I think the regulations for hunting deer are really good and they do a good job of keeping the regulations. You get a certain amount of tags and in New York, normally you don’t get the full amount of tags because it’s hard to hunt deer. The only thing people would disagree on is having to tag the deer and call it in because people just don’t want to do that. If they get a small deer they think ‘Oh, that’s wasting a tag on this
small deer’.” WR
“I feel like a younger age limit would get more kids into hunting because it’s dying down. You have to go through a hunter safety course before you can go out and hunt. They really hammer down on you about gun safety and they show videos where people have been shot and they’re not censored. It’s to scare you to show that’s what you could do to someone if you’re not careful. My dad was state police, so he’s seen a lot and he harps down on me about gun safety. Guns are always locked up, always unloaded and if they’re loaded, always on safety. If kids are taught, they won’t have any problems with gun safety. It’s all about how they’ve
been taught.” EH
What’s one hunting, fishing, or outdoor life memory or experience that has really stuck with you?
“My parents and I were out in the canoe on the river. I was fishing because we stopped for a minute and I cast out my pole. My mom thought my pole got stuck on a log because I could barely move it but it ended up being a huge smallmouth bass on the other end, that was cool. My dad was a little bit jealous that day because he didn’t catch anything.” MP
“I didn’t have a buck tag for my rifle so I wasn’t going to take my gun and I was just going to go home with my grandpa; we have about 1300 acres. We didn’t have corn that year, we had green beans and usually bears come around when the corn is there and they disappear when the beans are there. My dad said, ‘Ethan, bring your gun just in case’. We were watching some deer and they all spooked and looked up. A bear was coming through the woods. I was able to shoot a bear with my grandpa. I think he was more excited than I was. I called my dad and he’s like, ‘Make sure you get good pictures of it’. 30 to 40 minutes later, I heard some sticks break and my dad in a suit and tie coming down there to get some pictures. That was pretty fun.” EH
“I’ve participated in a tournament with the National Wild Turkey Federation and we go out on kid’s weekend. We kill a turkey and get it scored. Whoever has the biggest turkey wins supplies that were donated by different companies to help fund our hobby. It’s a really good way to help kids get their start and introduce them to hunting.” WR