Becoming Irrationally Self-Reliant. When a little girl goes hunting.

Sitting quietly for three hours in a blind could be hard for any hunter. Many parents would think it would be almost impossible for a seven-year-old. However, Laurelai and her dad had entered the structure ready for a long wait. This was the little girl’s much-anticipated first deer hunt. She had wanted to shoot a deer for a long, long time.

When his daughter was one and a half, Tim Winslow backpacked her into a remote cabin in the North Maine Woods. They were on a grouse hunt with her mom, Tim’s father, and two dogs.Tim is a Registered Maine Guide in both fishing and hunting. Whenever feasible he takes his daughter with him. Laurelai has to a great extent been raised in the woods.

Tim backpacking Laurelai to her first grouse hunt. Photo courtesy of Alison Libby Winslow.

If your daddy is a guide and takes you with him from the time you can walk, you learn a lot about nature. It takes an enormous amount of preparation to take clients hunting or fishing. As your father goes through those preparations, you learn about the animals he is going to hunt, as well as the other animals that populate the same areas. You learn that some fish you keep and some you put back. You learn about the plants that grow all around you. You pick wild blueberries and raspberries. You eat the things that are harvested.

When hunting is a way of life, not an occasional recreation, you develop a different perspective than many others.  Almost everyone in Laurelai’s family hunts. For generations, her mother’s family has owned one of the iconic camps in the North Maine Woods.

My husband and I went fishing with Tim when we stayed at Chandler Lake Camps. He told us about his daughter and asked my opinion on taking a young child hunting. She had shot her first rabbit when she was six. Her story impressed another BDN blogger so much that he ran her version of the experience. The blog had received some hurtful comments.

Before he had finished telling me about Laurelai, I knew I wanted to write about her in my Women & Guns Magazine column. As soon as we got home, I discussed the project with my editor-in-chief, then, contacted Tim for permission. He not only granted permission, he also invited us back to camp for a couple of days to get to know his daughter. Both he and his wife, Alison, also provided many pictures.

Laurelai has been hiking through the woods with her family since she could walk. When she was six she began carrying a rifle on the trips, like the adults. She shot her first grouse “with my Nana.” She is proud to be able to put food in the freezer, like the adults.

First grouse with Nana,
Photo courtesy of Alison Libby Winslow and Tim Winslow

She’s a delightful little girl, who was perfecting gymnastic stunts when we were together. She loves to dress up, and brings a skirt with her for after fishing, changing from her waders as soon as she gets back to the truck. She brings her lucky Barbie on her hunts.

Laurelai with her grandfather, father, first turkey and lucky Barbie. Photo coutesy of Tim Winslow.

Like most little girls, she loves animals. She expands that love to the creepy, crawly critters many little girls do not like to handle. While her favorite part of hunting is “the shooting,” she enjoys simply watching turkeys or deer or whatever else comes into view. She is learning, as every good hunter should, when and how to kill the food animals so that they are not hurt in the process.

She spent over three hours in the blind, patiently, uncomplainingly waiting for a deer. She and her dad played tic-tac-toe. She colored pictures of her family and friends and animals and her house. Enough pictures, Tim said, to wallpaper the entire inside of the blind.

She told me she didn’t get bored because she could think about her first dog who was buried not far from where they were sitting. Also, her friend’s house was across the field, and she knew he could see the blind. Her friend had been sick for a while, and she thought seeing where she and her father were made him happy. That made her happy, too. (Her friend turned out to be a 70-year-old man who had hunted with  her father when he was young.)

Then, the wait was over! Laurelai got her deer!

Laurelai got her deer! Photo courtesy of Tim Winslow.





Genie Jennings

About Genie Jennings

My blog, as my life, is composed of many interests. Because you are reading this, we must share at least one. They are divided into categories, so you can easily find others on our mutual topic. Also, you can avoid things on which we might diverge. Things labeled 'genie' are general life musings. When I took up fly fishing in earnest, I was struck by how much it was like skiing to me. It is an intricate activity that is easy to enter, and the more one knows, the more one realizes how little one knows. My comment was, "I would love to have something I love that does not require so much effort." I immediately knew that was not true. It is the striving that makes things valuable, and it is the striving that is life. I am evolving; I am becoming many things, a skier, a fly fisherman, an irrationally self-reliant human. I am becoming 'genie' whoever that might be.