THROUGH THEIR EYES
Edited By: Wade Childs
Growing up, it never really felt out of the ordinary to me. Although, I was aware hunters were mostly men, I never felt like I didn't belong. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by family, or maybe it was because I was encouraged from a young age, but I never truly felt the outdoors were male dominated. Eighteen years later, I’ve become more aware of the deficit of women hunters in past generations. This raised a lot of questions for me, and for some answers, I knew just where to turn. I went to my closest hunting buddies for their insight. Two men, my father and grandfather. They helped raise me to be the hunter I am. Neither of them had ever really had any knowledge about raising a woman in the hunting community. I felt their information and experiences could be beneficial to others, but mainly men with women and little girls in their lives. I wanted to know if either of them had any preconceived notions about raising me in the outdoors, as opposed to what they think now. I inquired with both of them, wondering if there would be a difference between their generations. It was insightful and I learned a lot of things that I wasn’t originally aware of. If you've been wondering how to get your kids or wives involved, this one is for all you dad’s, brothers, uncles, godfathers, grandfathers, husbands, and boyfriends.
KEVIN RAUSCHER (MY FATHER)
1. When you imagined having kids before Emily and I came along, what did you picture?
KR: I was scared to have kids. I didn’t want to bring them up in an ever-changing world.
2. Was it even a thought in your mind that I would go hunting with you after I was initially born?
KR: Initially, no! I was more concerned that you’d be healthy! I never discounted that because you were a girl, that you couldn’t go hunting with me.
3. How did you imagine life would be with two daughters?
KR: Never had any preconceived notions. Just wanted to make sure I provided for our family and kept you safe.
4. I know Mom went hunting with you when you guys were younger. Tell me about that. If you could change something about that experience, what would it be?
KR: She came up to the the family’s land. She'd get shooting, but didn’t get anything. I wanted her to get an understanding for why I loved it so much. I think she got that appreciation. The only thing I would change is that she would have gotten something. Then again, it might have been upsetting to her.
5. Did you think I’d be as into the outdoors/hunting as much as I am today when I was a kid? How DID YOU GET ME INTO IT?
KR: No, I didn’t imagine you would like it to the same degree as myself. I knew you were interested at a very young age, 3 years old, maybe. You would always stop and stare at the TV when hunting shows were on. I knew you had an interest. I took you hunting for your first time doing an all day sit at age nine. It was opening morning of the gun deer season, and we had only seen several does. Mid-morning, a small fork horn buck came through the valley we were sitting in; known to our family as "Death Valley." I pointed the deer out to you, and you told me, "shoot it daddy". I replied by telling you it was too small. Again, you encouraged me to shoot it. Concerned how you would handle the situation, I asked if you were sure you wanted to witness an animal being shot and dying, and again, you encouraged me to shoot. I shot once, the deer fell over, kicked a little, and then laid there peacefully. I turned to see what your reaction was. Your eyes were bugging out. I expected waterworks but instead, you said, "That was so cool!" From that moment on, I knew you were hooked.
6. Is there anything you’ve ever worried about being the father of a daughter that hunts?
KR: Just making sure that you understand that hunting is not killing. Making sure you understand the challenge of hunting the animal you have targeted. I never had a fear of having a daughter that hunts. Now that you are older however, I worry about you being manipulated and or discounted because you are a female.
7. What advice would you give to mothers that aren’t hunters, but have a significant other or children that are?
KR: I would suggest that they be educated as to all the benefits that can come from the experience(s). Remind them that it is not just about killing. It is being at one with nature, watching the sun come up or set, watching and hearing the woods come alive in the morning and go back to sleep in the evening, and watching the animals interacting with each other. The challenge of calling an animal in, learning to play the wind. The time to just sit and think.
8. What advice would you give any young girls that are learning how to hunt, or want to learn?
KR: Find avenues that will give you the opportunities to pursue the segment that interest you, find a mentor, join archery leagues and other shooting sports, conservation groups, and participate in hunting itself.
9. What advice would you give hunters that have/haven’t thought about getting their daughters into hunting? What are the benefits?
KR: Don’t look at it as gender specific and explain the challenges and the rewards. Explain the rewards from the experiences of being in the woods, not just the killing. Teach them about conservation so they understand the bigger picture of what hunting does for different species and their habitats. Not just for female hunters but, all hunters; understand that it's a chance to relax and get right with yourself and God, watching the beautiful sun rises and sunsets, listening to all the animals come alive, watching the leaves change color, and drop from the trees, and the snow build up on your shoulder. Secondly, understanding the challenge of hunting the animal you are pursuing. Again, not killing but, hunting the animal you have selected. Above all, I would hope that those that have had the experience of everything hunting provides, that that you choose it over other activities that may be harmful.
10. What has been the best part of us hunting together?
KR: The best part is that it has given us the opportunity and common ground to communicate and simply spend time together. The largest benefits are all the laughs and memories. The trophy is the bonus, but not always the priority.
BOB RAUSCHER (MY GRANDFATHER)
1. With three daughters and a son, did you ever think the girls might want to go hunting? Did you ever consider taking them?
BR: Yes, I took two of the three daughters hunting. Our oldest daughter Carrie, perhaps she was 10 years old at the time, went pheasant hunting with me. She didn’t like walking in through the tall wet grass, got tired of walking, and didn’t want to walk in the water to cross the creek. I ended up having to carry her across. Whenever I asked if she wanted to go after that, she had no interest. Our second daughter, Pam, went rabbit hunting with my beagle, Judy, and I. Judy ran a rabbit toward me and as it was coming, Pam said she didn’t want me to shoot it. She cried on the way home. Our third and youngest daughter never wanted to go hunting. She was extremely busy with figure skating lessons, gymnastics, and competitions.
2. Six granddaughters later, did you ever think any of us would hunt? Did you think I would ever go with you?
BR: I was hopeful that at least one of the granddaughters would love hunting and/or the outdoors in some form. I was hopeful you would. I knew your Dad wanted to introduce you to hunting since its always been a passion of ours.
3. Are there any thoughts or expectations that come to your mind, looking back on when I started going out into the woods with you and Dad?
BR: It was an exciting adventure to see you progress from a complete novice, to a driven and accomplished hunter. I was extremely excited when you harvested your first whitetail. Your progress, willingness, and drive to learn has been wonderful to watch. You’ve been a willing student and helped me even relearn some of my lost skills.
4. What would you say has been the best part/s of our involvement in the outdoors together?
BR: For me, the sense of family togetherness is important. It’s a tradition. The three of us and our extended family are part of, and continue to carry on our family traditions of getting together for gun season. That tradition started after the end of the second world war, when my uncles returned from serving our country. You’re an integral part of that tradition.
5. Is there anything you’ve ever worried about being the grandfather of a granddaughter that hunts?
BR: I’m more fearful of you having the same hunting mishaps that your Gramps experienced (ie, falling out of trees and treestands).
6. What advice would you give to parents/grandparents that aren’t hunters, but have loved ones that are?
BR: Hunting means so much more than killing. The camaraderie, the education of proper firearm handling, and other woodsman skills are important. Most of all, it provides a fun activity other than sitting in front of a television or playing with other electronics.
7. What advice would you give any young girls or women that are learning how to hunt, or want to learn? What are the benefits?
BR: Start with hunter safety, go on your first hunt with a trusted family member or another responsible adult. Read hunting magazines, watch hunting videos to learn as much as you can, and practice shooting. Being a hunter isn’t just about shooting and harvesting game. People that hunt learn how to respect firearms, get exercise, learn responsibility, as well as other lifelong skills with an emphasis on survival.
8. What advice would you give hunters that have/haven’t thought about getting their daughters into hunting?
BR: Hunting isn’t just for men. It’s a way for fathers to bond with their daughters, uncles to bond with their nieces, and godfathers to bond with their godchildren. Women and gals can enjoy it and can prove to be wonderful outdoorsman. If someone is interested in learning, it’s beneficial to help them. Beer ain’t just for breakfast anymore!
The outdoors has so much to offer. Whether you’re a man or woman, there is so much we can learn and enjoy about hunting. I was pleased to read the answers my Dad and Grandpa provided, and feel grateful they provided me with the knowledge I needed to become the hunter I am. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of the genders involved in the hunting community, it’s not about gender at all. It’s about sharing the tradition and camaraderie with people you love.
If you're a guy that wants to get your gal/s out hunting and have any other questions, ask below!