Winner, winner chicken dinner. I was recently back home in the Northwest Territories for my niece’s eighth birthday.
The scent of fresh lowbush cranberry scented air and the crisp cool air on my cheeks were the first things I experienced when I stopped my Volkswagen to take a deep breath after driving twelve hours.
We met for dinner as soon as I arrived. Gifts and birthday cake were not the highlights for her on that day, by a long shot.
The thing she was most looking forward to was being able to go on her first hunt with her Daddy. Both my nieces experience these moments with their Dads.
To be sure of the laws and regulations, we stopped in the local Wildlife Management office to discuss the hunting regulations for a parent and child.
It was there that local wildlife officer, Susan, mesmerized my young eight-year-old niece with the story of her life growing up on the land, speaking Chipewyan and hunting on her family trapline.
She explained how she learned English at the age of five in school and once she graduated she knew she wanted to continue her work on the land with wildlife, fish and birds.
She shared her story with my niece to explain how she too could become a wildlife officer or a wildlife biologist. We left with a booklet on hunting grouse and a children’s booklet on wild animals.
The excitement my niece had for an entire weekend was beyond any gift we could have bought her. She was excited to become a hunter and bring home something to eat.
She was optimistic about shooting a moose for Thanksgiving dinner but we encouraged her to bring home a wild chicken as her first choice. We wanted her to achieve her goal even though a moose would have been a delicious addition.
There are many sides to hunting and gun control but for an eight-year old, she just wanted to spend time with her Daddy and be part of the next story at the dinner table.
We don’t need to complicate a simple and beautiful choice that she made for herself. I don’t hunt but enjoy every story and every meal shared with wild game. There is something larger than us when we communally supply a meal for those we love. There is something about generational hunting that is a much needed tradition.
Generational hunting is beyond the simple act of shooting a gun.
It is about the primal beauty of supplying a family dinner with something you brought home and cleaned for the dinner table.
It is about learning respect for the actions you take and she had to learn that day how to clean her own bird. It is about the quality of time spend in the bush, or as many city folk call it, the forest.
She learned to respect the animal or bird she was about to shoot and yet also learned to respect and honour the time spent in silence as they walked looking for a grouse — wild chicken. In our busy, noisy worlds it taught her about being comfortable in each other’s company without having to over talk anything they were experiencing. It was about being in the moment and waking up at 5:30 a.m. to be on the land with first light. It more importantly is about the cycle of life and teaching another generation how precious every moment is.
Sharlyn Carter lives in Red Deer and is a foodie with a gypsy soul. You can find more on social media and the web as Market Gypsy.