Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doug Hampton - Not Just A Hunt For A Doe

 How could just a hunt for a doe be responsible for such an emotional moment in a lifetime of hunting whitetails?  I will admit, it didn't make the most since to me either.  I was notnecessarily prepared or expecting it by any means.  I was simply sitting in my tree-stand waiting on the first light of a late October morning.  My mission was simple...  I needed to harvest a doe with a recurve bow, as part of the challenge for the first group hunt for Dream Season 'The Journey'.  I had no clue that months later I would not be able to talk to anyone about the hunt without tears coming to my eyes.

      What is hunting to most folks?  What does it mean to the average hunter?  How can just a doe hunt be so rewarding?   After having my personal best year of killing bucks, how can a doe with a recurve be what I think of the most?  I can't explain it, but I can tell you it's the truth.

      Hunting is so much to so many of us.  It truly becomes our way of life.  The people that influence us through hunting and sharing great memories are among our closest friends and relatives.  Hunting is a bond that can be felt  quicker than explained.  Two of my most influential people in my life were my brother and my grandfather, or 'Pappaw' to anyone in my family.  My brother was my hunting & fishing buddy.   He showed me the ropes of life and even led me to the Lord.

Pappaw saw to it that we became responsible ethical hunters.  He as well as my uncles really spent a lot of their valued time fooling with us.  Pappaw took my brother to kill his first deer when I was 4 years old.  I remember hearing the shot from 'behind the field'.  I ran out of the camp to wait for them coming down the old muddy road.  It wasn't long before I could see the blue Bronco creeping slowly with a small spike laying up on the hood.   I was so excited!  It was the first deer that I can ever remember seeing.  It also was the first moment that I knew I wanted to be a hunter.  A few years later, Pappaw pulled out an old recurve bow.  I believe I was 9 or 10 at the time, but after watching that first arrow hit the paper plate that I was shooting at, I knew I wanted to be a bowhunter.  Later that evening I crawled into an old box-stand about 10 feet off the ground.  Pappaw handed me that recurve and 2 arrows with broadheads.  He instructed me to be safe and he would be back later.  After about an hour, I saw him returning to pick me up.  I quickly waived him back so that I could keep hunting.  Now I had not seen hide nor hair, but I knew I was bowhunting, and I knew I liked it!

         As life flew past me, my brother was killed when I was 13 years old.  He was a few months shy of graduating high school when he was taken from us.  Pappaw would drive from Arkansas to Texas to pick me up and take me back, just so I could hunt.  He knew it was my therapy for dealing with the loss.  He did that for the next few years until I could drive there on my own.  In the year 2000, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  After months of fighting, he went to be with my brother.

         As I sat waiting for the daylight to overtake the darkness, I looked at the recurve that I was going to attempt to take a doe with.  I don't consider myself to be an overly emotional guy.  Passionate maybe, but not emotional.  But something about looking down at that recurve began to take me back to that first time I bowhunted.  The memories of  Pappaw handing me the bow and the memories of waiving him back began to hit me.  I thought of my brother and how he had told me that one day he'd be watching me shoot deer on television.  It was just all too much to take in at one time.  The tears began to role down my face & their was no stopping them.  I was glad it was still dark.  T.J., one of the Drury production staff, was along to video for the hunt.  Rod was busy filming one of the contest winners from facebook.  I had only met T.J. just recently, and was hoping he didn't notice the moment that I unexpectedly having.  As soon as it was light enough to see, a doe was headed our way. She never offered me a good shot, so the opportunity to fill my tag had come, and then slipped by. The guide text me after a few hours and said he was on his way. After a minute or two, I text him back & "waived him off", the way I had Pappaw so many years before.  I was just enjoying the hunt.  Not long after, I caught movement of a huge doe coming my way feeding on acorns.  After a few minutes she was heading straight at our tree.  She would cross in front at 15 yards.  I drew the recurve and let the arrow fly.  There was blood immediately and by the way she was running, I knew she wasn't gonna last long. At about 70 yards, she went down on camera. I was once again overcome with emotion. I was so excited that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I thought about Pappaw telling me to "enjoy your life, hunt all you can son".  Nobody ever said on their deathbed that they wish they had worked more. I can't remember a hunt of my own that meant quite as much as this one. Moments in my life that laid dormant, were suddenly brought back as if they had happened the day before.

       Now I'm just a southern country boy that God has granted some great wishes to.  He's given me an awesome family, great friends, and  made me lucky enough to close the deal on some great bucks over the past few years.  Dream Season 'The Journey' will begin airing in the coming weeks.  Most folks will watch this hunt and never know the significance to me of this particular hunt.  The raw emotion that I felt through that entire day may never be matched again.  The bonds that have been made with my loved ones and friends through hunting areirreplaceable.  I can't wait to re-live this hunt when it airs.  I'll probably have tears in my eye's yet again.  It's my most anticipated hunt to watch, and it's not even a buck.  With my heart and soul I can honestly say, this was not just a hunt for a doe. I still can't explain it, but it sure was special.