Wild Times: I can hear her calling to me, Part 1
For as long as I can remember I have been enthralled with hunting. My wife would change that to say that I am obsessed, but I really don’t believe that is correct. If I would never hunt again, I would get over it but I would definitely miss it! I was exposed to it at a very young age, and I am sure that is why I have gone down this path.
Growing up in a rural community in the center of the nation also played a large part in the direction I took. It was what we dreamed of doing as young kids and then what we did when we were old enough to take part in the hunt. I read everything I could get my hands on about hunting from the third grade up to today. I read and read during the week and some of that reading material deals with hunting — some does not — but I still feed that desire for hunting with books that deal with hunting.
As I look back, it is kind of interesting to track the path that I have taken over the years dealing with hunting. It is not a unique path that only I have gone down. It is such a common theme among all hunters, especially those of us who have grown up in a rural setting in middle America, it is nothing out of the ordinary. There are a million other hunters in this country just like me! I am just so thankful that I was raised here and grew up among other young guys that had the same interests.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to have been able to hunt in different areas of the country besides just around Sabetha. I had a strong desire to venture out to new parts of the country, and I know this was fueled by all of my reading. This is why I am such a strong believer and advocate for pushing kids down the reading path.
Paula and I are voracious readers and we passed that trait to our kids, who like us, read constantly. What I find curious about my hunting desires is that I never had a desire to hunt on the continent of Africa. I really don’t know why, but I suppose it was because I knew nothing about it and hadn’t ever read anything about it.
I knew several gentlemen here in town who had hunted across the ocean but for some reason it did not intrigue me. I was totally ignorant about what Africa had to offer and as a result had no interest whatsoever. That has changed!
Back in 2011, a very good friend of mine approached me about considering going on a hunting safari with four other couples in the summer of 2012. I quickly responded that I had no interest whatsoever. It was not about the people going on the hunt. We had made a trip with the whole crew to the jungle of Nicaragua the year before on a fishing trip and had the time of our life. I just had no interest in hunting in Africa. Boy, was I out of touch!
Several months slipped by, but I could not get the thought of heading across the ocean out of my mind. My friend had given me a DVD about the safari company that would conduct the hunt and I watched it several times. I had to admit it looked like fun and I was becoming more intrigued. About four months before the group was scheduled to leave, I contacted my friend and told him that Paula and I were interested and asked if there still time to be included. He said it was no problem and the hunt was on. That first trip was amazing! It was better than anything I had expected.
My wife and I had a great time with the group and were able to establish friendships with the two guys who we hunted with that have blossomed into lifelong bonds with them and their families. From a hunting standpoint, it was more than I could have ever imagined. If ever there was a hunting paradise on this planet, we found it in Africa. I was like a kid in a toy store! They literally had to drag me to the airport to come home. I was told by two veteran hunters of the African continent that if I went over one time, Africa would be calling to me for the rest of my life. I just smiled. I had no clue what they were talking about and what was in store for Paula and I.
After the trip, I figured out what they were talking about. Africa was calling to me! I could not get the experience out of my mind and I could constantly hear her calling for me to return. And return, I have — many times and this last time once again I took Paula along. I keep hoping that she too will get that burning desire to keep going back, but that is probably only wishful thinking. I was just glad she agreed to go once again. So, in June we boarded a plane for that long ride and answered the calling.