August 4 promises to be a day filled with learning for Nathaniel and me because I just registered us for a full-day hunter education class. I actually took hunter education once before, but it was 25 years ago and the course was somewhat broken and distracted as Hurricane Hugo was fast approaching the South Carolina coast, and the Class was in Charleston. I've not really hunted much since then, and things have changed substantially in a quarter of a century. Therefore, much of the learning will be as new to me as it will be to Nathaniel.
I've fished for as long as I can as I can remember, but I never hunted as a boy. In college I spent occasional fall Saturdays in doves fields with friends, and my first job out of school was for a waterfowl conservation organization, which led to a few duck hunting trips. While working as an editor for Game & Fish Publications I took a few writer trips that involved time in the deer or turkey woods or in a dove field.
That's about it. Hunting just hasn't had the same appeal to me as fishing, and between the great fishing that occurs during fall and winter and the fact that my established writing markets are virtually all fishing oriented, I've just never taken the time to do more hunting.
The renewed interest comes through Nathaniel, my 14-year-old son. Last year's Southeastern Outdoor Press Association conference sparked a significant shooting/hunting interest in him so we're ready to start learning together. The hunter education class, which is in Spartanburg, S.C., will be the first important step. At this year's SEOPA conference, which is in late September, I look forward to lots of good learning for both of us from friends on the shooting/hunting side of the outdoor writing industry.
The next step will be to plan a few forays for this fall and winter where we can get out in the woods for squirrels or sit together in a duck blind. Maybe I can figure out some cast-and-blast plans!