Recently I was sitting with my 31 year old daughter, Jacqueline, at my ranch in a deer blind that I named “Daddy Daycare” many years ago. This “distraction free” quiet environment gave me plenty of time to think and “be present.” Our mission was to harvest (shoot) some wild feral hogs or whitetail deer as part of our game management program.
We sat for many hours over a couple days and didn’t see much of anything to shoot. There are a lot of animals at my ranch, and I tried to think of the reasons why we were not seeing many of them. As we sat there in the comfort of our warm blind, complete with a propane heater and nice padded office chairs, I remembered days of long ago when I was a young kid in the Texas Hill Country and almost begged to go hunting. On those rare occasions when I got invited or could come up with $20 for a day lease (the right to sit in a tree on someone’s land that hadn’t produced a deer in years) I would quietly sit on a tree branch in the cold with a numb butt and numb feet praying that I didn’t fall out of the tree. I wouldn’t move for hours hoping to see “old snort” wander by. Seldom did I see a deer or get a chance to take a shot. I recalled that when I was young, I promised myself that if I was ever able to, I would buy a ranch and make it available to people who couldn’t afford a deer lease or didn’t have access to a place to hunt. I also thought about all of the people that I have sat with in that very blind and those that harvested their first deer from that blind. Even the name of the blind brought back memories: I named it Daddy Daycare because my son, eight years old at the time, first made so much noise in the bind that any animals close by were scared away, then fell asleep and then woke up and killed a good deer. I felt like I was operating a daycare so I gave the blind the name.
As I sat there in silence with my daughter beside me, just thinking, I felt ashamed for my impatience and lack of appreciation for my blessings. I thought about all of the virtues that this special place has. Not everyone understands that hunting can and does teach life lessons in a world where most seek immediate gratification.
Daddy Daycare has taught me and many others much over the past 20 years. We learned to patiently wait and not give up. We learned to persevere and learned from our mistakes when we missed a shot or a trophy. We learned to watch God’s creatures in their natural environment when oftentimes they didn’t know we were observing them. We learned to deal with the anxiety or stress that exists when tracking a trophy. We learned to respect the blessings of nature, especially the harvest of an animal. We learned to overcome nervousness and missed opportunities and assure people of all ages that they can be successful if they remain focused. All of these things and many others were experienced and taught in a small ten foot by six foot fiberglass hut in the middle of nowhere.
One of the most important things that I have learned by watching wild animals is how in tune they are with their environment though intense use of their senses. In today’s society, where most people are in a hurry, perhaps we all can learn the importance of being present and in tune with our surroundings. Watching for signs from those around us, knowing who to trust, when to dodge, when to fight and when to run are all things that are helpful in everyday life and in the business world. Animals rely on their instincts in making these choices. The development of our instincts helps us learn to follow our heart.
The Daddy Daycare story comes to an end one more time. Jacqueline did get a deer. It wasn’t a management buck that we were hunting and hoping for but an eleven point trophy. Our patience and dad’s generosity paid off one more time in “Daddy Daycare” where the learning never ends!
Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.