Hunting is a time-honored tradition here in Texas, as well as in most parts of our country and the world. It’s a way for a boy to become a man and to earn the respect of his elders. With any long-standing past-time, traditions are made. Like in baseball, the tradition of throwing out the first pitch or “God Bless America” in the 7th inning stretch. Hunting traditions are no different. Like most men I know, I grew up learning about the outdoors from my grandfather. He is now pushing 80 years old, with failing eyesight, and bad shoulders, yet he can still spot a buck 3 fence lines away. With 4 daughters of his own, he took it upon himself to pass down his hunting traditions / rituals to me. The same ones that his father had passed to him, and I will pass on to my wife and step-son.
The main one is the “blood rite” tradition. It is the act of smearing blood on the hunters face as a celebration of the first kill. I remember opening weekend of the 1988 rifle season when I was 5 years old. I was standing in our back yard watching my grandfather skin the buck hanging from an old oak tree. I watched in awe as he turned our trophy into food for the table. He stood so tall above me, working his knife separating flesh from skin. He stopped just long enough to turn around and swipe his index finger across my forehead. It was warm, wet and a smell that I had never smelled before. Not bad, just different. He stood there staring at me with a proud look on his face, then gave out his signature chuckle. I thought I was a man…
The main one is the “blood rite” tradition. It is the act of smearing blood on the hunters face as a celebration of the first kill.
I had the opportunity to witness this again this past year. My wife didn’t grow up hunting, but since marrying me has fallen in love with it the same as I did. This year on opening day, she went out and harvested her first deer completely solo. A beautiful Texas whitetail that any hunter would be proud to have on his / her wall. She was standing at the tailgate of the truck, taking pictures, and prouder than a Rio gobbler in full strut. All of a sudden, my grandfather quietly walks over inspecting the rack and shot placement on the buck. Then he asks “Which one of you shot this deer?” Shannon exclaimed “I did!!” Reaching up with an index finger full of blood he covered her nose with it. I stood there expecting her to scream and scream she did…with excitement!! She wrapped her arms around him in a huge hug. I can’t remember being more proud to call her my wife than that moment. My wife had earned the respect of every man there, the same way I did 24 years earlier almost to the day.
A good hunt starts with a good cooler. Thanks to Bison coolers our hunts will be forever cool.
This tradition will forever be sacred to me. Like a prayer before dinner, it’s something I want to continue to pass down along with my love for the outdoors. What will your children remember from their first deer or monster bass? What traditions will you leave them with?