Many of the appointments within this project have been one day affairs. I drive my son to meet with the man, they spend time together, and I pick my son up again. The hunt was a bit more involved.
My brother-in-law, who graciously agreed to take David hunting, gave me a good overview of what would be required several months in advance. This allowed ample time to mentally and physically prepare for the Junior Hunt weekend.
The biggest commitment on David’s part was to work through the online hunting course. We chose this route rather than the classroom format due to scheduling, travel and time logistics and sheer convenience. Still, with multiple family members being involved in sports, music, art and church activities, it was still daunting enough. My job involved staying on top of David’s need to read through and listen to the course material, complete the sectional reviews and then take the online test. Rather than have him do this months in advance, we waited until the month before simply to have the material fresh in his mind.
Ed also came and met us to pick up David for a session at the shooting range to sight and scope in the rifle he would use. David actually did quite well on his practice shots, so it didn’t take very long for Ed to determine that the rifle and nephew were adequately ready.
A little less than two weeks before the hunt, I took David below Chattanooga to meet with Ed so that they could travel to the hunt area for prep work. After a couple of hours of driving, they arrived at the farm. There, Ed guided David through the woods to the tree stand. He showed David how to properly scale the tree, situate himself for hunting and secure himself with the proper safety straps.
The Saturday on week prior to the hunt involved yet another trip below Chattanooga to complete the hunting course with a field day. (We ran into Richard Snyder, another of the 52 Godly Men, who was willing to bring David back with him later that afternoon. This kept me from having to be on the road 4 hours that day.)
The next few days were spent gathering the clothes for the hunt, purchasing the safety vest and hat and securing the required permit for the Junior Hunt. Finally, the night before, my wife took David down to his aunt and uncle’s house so he could get into bed early for the actual hunting trip.
For those of you who are interested in scheduling a 52 Godly Men/Women program for your own child, I’m writing this simply as a reminder that some of your appointments will require more work than others. Planning ahead, clear communication with all parties involved and a bit of patience are required as you navigate such times. The end result, whether it is a pot of stew, a fond memory, a weekend with a personal hero or whatever else you are aiming for will be worth it.
One more note: Ed told David that he believes in letting someone do what they are supposed to do. Whereas some fathers or uncles might hold the child in their lap, help hold the gun, sight the deer and “help” pull the trigger in allowing Junior to shoot “his” first deer, Ed took a different approach. He did plenty of prep work along with us for this trip. But when it came time for David to hunt, he simply helped David get into the proper place at the proper time with the proper tools. After that, it was up to David. If he got a deer, it would be his victory. If he missed every shot and walked away empty-handed, it would be his loss. If he never saw a single deer the whole weekend, it would be his patience expended.
It was no reflection on me whether David arrived home with a deer or not. It wasn’t my hunt. I’m in this for the long haul, not simply for a weekend trophy. Keeping that in perspective allows me, as a parent, to give David these many opportunities to explore and experience.
Parents can rob their children of deep satisfaction by over-coaching. At some point, you have to be willing to say, “It’s your shot.” Let them take it. Whether it’s in the woods or at the free throw line, let them try. Give them the gift of freedom to explore, to fail and to succeed.