I AM A HUNTER... by Casey Bouwhuis
I AM A HUNTER
I am a Hunter. I hunt not to kill, but to harvest clean organic meat that will fill my freezer. I hunt because it is in my primal DNA. I hunt for the experience, and to connect with gods beautiful country, and amazing wild creatures. But there was a time in my life when I was not a hunter. I grew up in northern Utah and hunting was a long family tradition. I have many fond memories of deer camp as a young boy and couldn’t wait to become a teenager and be a become a hunter myself. When I turned 14 than long awaited day became a reality and my parents gave my a hand-me-down 243. Id didn’t matter that it was old and used, what mattered is that it was mine and it shot true. I hunted as a teenager for 4 years anI harvested a doe and my first buck, and a cow elk. My senior year in high school would be my last year hunting as I would leave for church mission. After returning life priorities took over. I went to college, I met and married a California girl, and would end up moving to California and raising a family and start a career as a fireman after being hating a couple other jobs.
EVERYTHING FELL INTO PLACE
For 18 years I did not hunt and could not even identify myself as a hunter. I was no longer a hunter (or at least so I thought). However something deep inside stirred and didn’t know what it was and could not figure it out. Then one day in January 2015 a college at work was talking about a cow elk hunt in UT he was going on in a week. I asked where they were going and it happened to be an area that I was familiar with, about an hour away from where I grew up. I told him I grew up not far from there and that I even hunted there a long time ago. Inside my gut I wanted to go on the hunt with them but then my brain said “no your your a hunter anymore, you don’t even have a gun”, and I felt a sting as I conceded to that thought. Then unexpectedly he said “Hey do you want to go with us?” I was in shock and did’t know what to think or say. “What do you mean, the hunt is next week” I said. My mind was all the sudden racing, at the thought that i could really be going hunting. He said well we had a guy back out so we have a spot open, “you should go with us” he said. With hunt being a week away I thought there is no way I would be able to go. I didn’t have a license, I didn’t have a gun or any hunting gear, and what would my wife think when I tell her I want to go hunting, she’ll think I’m crazy, not to mention I was scheduled to work and would have to get my shift covered. And then like magic everything just fell into place.
We called the Utah division of wildlife and they were able to look up my hunter ID from 18 years ago, and I was able to buy my license, the outfitter said he could get a land owner tag for me, my buddy let me borrow his old 30-06, the hunt was in January so my ski gear would be fine, and wife to my amazement (probably sensing my excitement) was very supportive and wanted me to go, and I was able to get my work shift covered. With the encouragement of my wife and friend I made it happen and went on my first big game hunt in 18 years. For by buddy and the other 3 hunters in our group the hunt was anything but successful. We had equipment failures, the weather didn’t cooperate, and the elk didn’t cooperate and none of us harvested a cow elk. Crazy huh! But for me the hunt was amazing, because it was not about the kill or the money lost on an unpunched tag. It was about the experience. I experienced a a feeling of excitement and connection to the outdoors and that I had not felt in a very long time. Something inside me came alive on that hunt and it was the realization that “I am a hunter”. I guess it was that stir in my gut that i could not figure out.
Yesterday being “muleymonday” and essentially the two year anniversary of that cow elk hunt, I posted my first hunting photo on instagram. It was a pic of my 2016 mule deer buck from Idaho. He’s a mature 3×4 and to most hunters he’s nothing spectacular or even that great of a buck but to me his meaning is significant. He is a special buck because not only is he the biggest buck i’ve ever harvested but the 1st harvested animal since I became a hunter again. He represents a the hard work and dedication it takes to be a successful hunter. I am a hunter and I hunt to live.
Husband, Father of 2????♀️. Firefighter ??. Love God??, Family????, Country??and the great Outdoors ??⛷?????Life is Good???