Today’s blog post comes to us from Wade McMillin, Lead Video Editor of Intrepid Outdoors. Wade shares a story about a father who hopes to instill his passion for the outdoors on to his young son. Watch the story unfold during this weeks episode of Intrepid Outdoors: Monday at 6:30 PM ET, Friday at 3 PM ET and Saturday at 12 PM ET.
During a time of school shootings, threats to the Second Amendment and weapon bans, many would believe that exposing children to guns is a lethal combination.
It is these “moral standards” that could seriously hinder the relationship between America’s youth and the outdoors. There’s no question that the future of conservation needs just that, a future. But with so many people out there against guns, it seems like the hunting opportunities for our children will eventually dwindle.
The optimism within me doesn’t want to believe in these hypothetical times ahead. And I’m convinced in the invisible bond between outdoorsmen, trusting in each other to get their children into the wild. The current times may not be a very good indication that this primitive father-son bonding is still taking place, but sometimes it just takes a single story to make us realize that it truly is.
While going through the usual, rudimentary day of video editing here at Intrepid Outdoors, I was finally ready to begin a new show. I was excited to begin production, knowing the episode was going to feature some very unique Wyoming high country hunts. But as things sometimes go in the post-production world, we didn’t have enough footage to make a full back-country mule deer and elk show.
Like any other video editor would do, I began to look for solutions. I vigorously sought out another hunt that could possibly fill the enormous gap left in my timeline. Looking through hours upon hours of footage, I kept passing through a simple Pronghorn Antelope hunt, featuring Intrepid Outdoors Co-Host Zach Key.
After all the sifting, I decided to look a little deeper into Zach’s hunt. That’s when I saw a familiar face, Zach’s son, Parker. I thought to myself that Parker was just along for the ride and Intrepid Outdoors Executive Producer Mike Schmid brought his camera to see if he could perhaps salvage a webisode for us at best. But upon further investigation, this footage was much more than what I originally thought. Mike and Zach probably didn’t film this hunt with the intention of it being on television, yet the pair uncovered a great story and it just so happened to be that Parker was the one who made it that way.
Parker has been hunting with Zach before. Zach began taking Parker on his easier, low country Antelope hunts last year, but there wasn’t much the youngster could do at the tender age of 1. Parker showed a liking for it, however, and Zach brought his now 2-year-old son for an old-fashioned hunting trip with his mom, dad and even his grandparents (Mike Schmid and his wife, Pam).
The family dynamic, to me, is what began making this footage an attractive choice to include to my high country show. Sure, the Schmid and Key families weren’t in the deep woods, but the vast Wyoming prairie provided an incredible contrast.
So as I began to piece together the clips of Zach’s hunt, I ran across his opening statement that he made before feeding his mules on a beautiful Wyoming morning. Zach explained that he was headed out for a family outing, taking Parker on an Antelope hunt with “Grandma and Grandpa.” It was the usual intro I am used to listening to before any of our hunters begin their quests. I knew I needed more, so I listened on to Zach’s early morning testimony. After some dialogue about the massive migratory Sublette Pronghorn heard — famous to Wyoming — Zach explained exactly why Parker got to tag along on this fall Antelope Hunt.
“I’m going to take him out and try to show him the ropes,” Zach said. “I want to try to show him what the outdoors is all about and teach him to be an ethical hunter from an early start,”
Zach wasn’t just bringing Parker along because the babysitter canceled. The Wyoming native and proud father knew exactly what he was doing. In this time of so much uncertainty when it comes to guns, Zach didn’t lock up all the rifles and ammo in the house. Instead, he took it out of the gun safe and showed it to Parker at just 2 years old. Some may think that’s crazy, but Zach surely had an explanation noteworthy enough for even some of the biggest naysayers.
“In doing this, I believe that (hunting) will keep him out of drugs and alcohol and other things he shouldn’t be involved in when he gets older,” Zach said. “I believe the outdoors will be great for him. It will be a good time for him.”
Now, there’s no scientific proof that by taking Parker hunting, Zach will have saved his son from all the evils in the world. But he was able to teach the youngster a thing or two. Throughout the hunt, Zach had about seven encounters. He passed up six of them strictly because of ethics. Either the shot was too far or there was something laying beyond the bullet’s path.
Each time Zach passed on his encounter, he educated his son on why he did so. And although Parker is only 2, he listened to the words of his father like it was a bedtime story. Zach didn’t hide his weapon from his boy. Instead, he did the fatherly duty of educating his son about his rifle and what “daddy uses it for.”
This example is just one of hundreds that we have encountered on Intrepid Outdoors. We truly believe that America’s wildlife needs America’s youth. Zach is already instilling these morals into his son and it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that more fathers need to do the same. As mentors to our youth, if we actually teach them about hunting and about the tools used in the sport, this nation’s children will not only be better off for it, but they will be safer. And that safety should be what’s most important.
For more about how Intrepid Outdoors supports youth hunting, please visit the Intrepid Kidz page of our website at: http://intrepidoutdoors.com/intrepid-kidz.
Also, don’t forget to be on the lookout for this show, “Public Land Adventures” premiering on the Sportsman Channel during the week of March 18th.