By MUCC Policy Intern Ashley Bur
As the sound of the alarm went off at 4am, I stumbled out of bed reaching for the light. The day was here, I had been waiting weeks for this, and it was going to be my day to shine, or so I thought as I got ready for my very first ever hunt.
The previous day had been spent in preparation, purchasing licenses and steel shot ammunition, etc. But now the day had come and I had nerves from here to the moon. Last weekend was practice. Shooting clay pigeons and getting comfortable with a gun. If you can’t tell already, this is coming from someone who’s barely even shot a gun. I had no idea what to expect, but the excitement was overwhelming.
I had the privilege of attending this hunt out on my professor’s farm with my supervisor, MUCC's Deputy Director Amy Trotter, and MSU Professor Dr. Chuck Nelson. As we rolled into his driveway at 6:30am sharp, the skies still dark and the air chilly, we wiggled into our waders and got our equipment ready. The hike back to the swamp/pond was only a short distance. With the dog ready and the decoys put out we all got settled and into position as the day broke and the skies became lighter with the sunrise. It was happening, I was officially hunting! I chuckled to myself because I had no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. Chuck and Amy were big help in navigating me through the ins and outs of what to expect and where to be looking, and the official chime of when to shoot.
We sat around for a while, not seeing anything earlier in the morning, when the sound of geese became faint. Chuck got out his goose call and the next thing I know two perfect geese were headed our way. Chuck gave me some quick instructions and the next thing I heard was “shoot it.” Obviously being a first time hunter I missed, but Amy came through and took down one of the geese! It was a blur and over so fast, the next thing I heard was the pup splashing in the water to retrieve the goose. I was so excited Amy was successful that I didn’t even care that I had missed. I was just so grateful for the experience that I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear.
This is what it was all about—getting to witness and take in the hunt is just as much fun. I now see why so many people get into hunting and make it a lifetime passion. As the morning rolled on, we didn’t see another bird in the area, so around 9:30 we called it quits and went to breakfast.
Being a first time hunter, I really wasn’t sure what to expect or how I’d feel about killing something, or if I’d even be able to. This is still all new to me, but I can’t wait to head out and try again in a few weeks. I’m thankful I had such supportive people with me, coaching and encouraging me to do it. Even though I grew up in a hunting family, I never really had much interest in it and always too busy with other things. But I have always understood and respected the people who take the time to do something they enjoy so much. There’s something so majestic about being up before the sun and out in the woods. It’s a liberating feeling, breathing in the fresh morning air, hearing the different animals wake and call out as the day begins, and not being attached to the phones. Everything about the event was peaceful, quiet, and methodical.
I look forward to experiencing more of this, and many thanks go out to Amy and Chuck who helped mentor me through my first trip. Along with my mom and dad who geared me up and practiced with me through the nerves. This is something I’ll remember forever and am so grateful to get this kind of opportunity. The excitement is real and I want more! Best of luck out there, hunters!