I recently returned home from one of the most incredible hunts of my life. While I didn’t punch a tag, I was able to celebrate my two favorite men punching theirs. My husband arrowed a mature mule deer with 3 Rivers Adventures and my pops arrowed a once in a lifetime bull moose. Braxton rarely gets to hunt because he’s usually behind the camera or he can’t get off work to travel on these incredible adventures with me. My pops, on the other hand, has been elk hunting with me the last 3 years in a row and came home empty-handed each time. Instead of chasing elk again this season, he flew to Alberta with us to pursue his absolute favorite game. It was a dream come true to put one on the ground on the last day of his hunt. His raw emotion had me choked up.
I’ve always been the little girl that idolized her dad. He could do no wrong, he was the perfect human and his opinion was the most important. He could look at me in disappointment without saying a word and I’d crumble because I always wanted to make him proud. I truly thought he walked on water, which is actually the Randy Travis song I chose for us to dance to on my wedding day.
Eventually, at some point, you start to become your own person instead of living for the approval of others - even your parents that you love and adore! I remember starting a business in the beauty industry (which I had for 3 years) and while he encouraged me to find happiness in anything I did, I knew deep down it wasn’t what he wanted for me. I did it anyway and I excelled in it. I say that proudly because I loved making women feel beautiful and some days I’d have up to 8 women on the books. It was an extremely gratifying job, but exhausting because I couldn’t make money unless I was physically present. It was during that time that I started working really long days for half the week then hunting almost every weekend with Braxton. Over time I decided I wanted to hunt full time, which was a childhood dream of Braxton’s too. That decision was made roughly 3 years ago in August of 2015.
It’s through trial and error that you find what fills your cup in life. I can be happy doing a lot of different things, but getting to cross borders and hunt with my pops is hard to beat. And while he doesn’t say it, I know that he’s proud of where I am today. Choosing a career that he enjoys telling people about is just the cherry on top. I believe it’s natural to want to please the ones that raised us, but I’d encourage everyone to follow their own dreams. Our parents won’t be here forever!
I have never looked back and wondered where I’d be if I had chased an outdoor career instead of having a job in the beauty industry. Those years reminded me how powerful it is to be a woman, a boss lady, an entrepreneur, and someone that was able to lift other women up. It was a pivotal moment in my life because I’ve always been a tomboy. However, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t warm my heart that I came back to what he initially placed in my life. He gave me opportunity by always investing in hunting leases and waiting until I wanted to get behind the weapon instead of pressuring me. While my husband put a bow in my hand many years later, my pops planted the seed. He showed me how to appreciate the outdoors and give thanks to the man upstairs for creating such a beautiful world.
I learned a lot of lessons in the field with him by my side. He’s always showed compassion and gratitude for the animals we pursue. He taught me how to clean a deer and reminds me that it’s ok to cry. He helps me talk through my mistakes and make a game plan to do better next time, and highlights the good when we don’t fill tags. Simply put: when I get overwhelmed, he reminds me of what truly matters. I don’t know how many more years I will get to do this with him, but I hope that by writing about it I can hold on to the moments a little longer. He’s a gem of a man, and while I’ve learned over time that he is far from perfect, he will always be someone that I look up to. He says the only thing that could possibly top this hunt would be a Yukon moose hunt. I sure hope I can make that happen for him some day, just to say thank you for all that he’s done for me!