A Dad’s Duty

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis | April 12, 2023

My dad is not a hunter. My dad is not a fisherman. My dad is not what I would call an outdoorsman like me. At an early age, I showed a special interest in the outdoors, despite my father’s indifference to these activities, but I never lacked for places to hunt and fish when I was a child. My dad was sure of that. 

My first rifle was a Marlin semiautomatic .22 long rifle that my dad bought for me when I was 8 or so. Taking me out to my grandfather’s farm, my dad would set up cans for me to shoot, and then, when he felt comfortable taking me to the woods, he would climb with me up in a deer stand, strap me in with an old car seat belt, and let me sit by myself, the .22 rifle in my hands. I was instructed to not shoot a deer if I saw one, of course, but I would dream of raccoons, foxes and bobcats coming my way, but all I ever saw were squirrels. I was never bored though, with the active imagination of a child taking over. My dad may have been bored, but he never let me know about it, as he would sit for hours in a self-built wooden ladder stand nearby on the edge of a cotton field, not shooting anything. 

Then, a couple of years later, I received the gift that I had longed for. My dad got me a deer rifle, a youth model Remington .243. I remember sitting in my room just gazing at it on the wooden gun rack that my dad had also bought and hung on the wall for me. I dreamed of the chance to shoot a deer with that rifle. Because of my dad, the opportunity arose.

The first true deer hunt I had ever gone on, my dad and I were sitting side by side in an old bus seat converted into a ladder stand overlooking a huge field in Terrell County. That rifle felt so good in my hands, and periodically, I would slowly raise the rifle, peer through the scope and imagine squeezing the trigger on a whitetail. Snapping me out of my daydream, my dad tapped my shoulder and quietly pointed to the left along the wood line. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Three does made their way out into the field, and I began to shake uncontrollably. Raising my new rifle to my shoulder, my dad whispered calmly in my ear, instructing me on what to do. My dad had never shot a deer, but he spoke like an experienced hunter as he attempted to coach me through making the shot.

I held my breath, found the lead deer’s shoulder and pulled the trigger. BOOM! I looked quickly over my scope and saw all three deer standing, frozen in place, looking in the opposite direction from us. I missed! My dad quickly helped me chamber another round and once again walked me through a second shot attempt. My heart was beating an audible pulse into my ears, and I felt like my head was going to burst. Finally, I squeezed the trigger again, but this time when I looked over the scope, I saw a deer lying on the ground, dropped in its tracks. 

I was king of the hunting world! I had killed my first deer, and my dad was with me, my dad who didn’t really care a thing about hunting. But he was there because he knew it was what I loved. He knew that I had it in my blood. There was only one cure for the outdoor fever I had, and that was to be in the woods or on the water. My dad honored that.

As I flash forward to other successful hunts and fishing trips, I think of the one behind the camera, behind the taxidermy bills and behind the proud talk. It was my dad. My dad… the one who was never a hunter. The one who was never a fisherman. The one who only did this stuff because his youngest child loved it. That’s a good father. And that’s reason for a heartfelt thanks from his son. 

So, dads (and moms), keep taking those kids hunting and fishing, even if you think you are too busy, too tired, or whatever the excuse might be. It is an investment in your kids, and I can assure you, their memories will last a lifetime. 

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  1. Shoefly71 on April 13, 2023 at 9:53 pm

    Love it, reminds me of so many great adventures I had with my dad and my son who is now headed off to college. Time flies, make it count. Thanks.

  2. rstallings1979 on April 12, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Great writeup Andrew!! My oldest son is now 9 and he killed his first real trophy this past season. He definitely has developed a love for the outdoors and it is a special feeling knowing that he cares about our land, deer herd, etc. My youngest is 6 and I hope he follows suit. Although the oldest knows he isn’t strong enough to pull back a compound bow just yet he is begging me to take him to Illinois with me this fall for a midwest bowhunt. He just wants to be by my side and enjoy the experience. I hope me and his teachers can work something out this coming fall.

    • Andrew Curtis on April 12, 2023 at 11:06 am

      Thank you for your feedback! I love to hear that you are passing on the tradition to your boys. That’s what this is all about!

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