October 8th of 2012, was the day I gave up. I sent my manager an email stating that I needed help….so I took a leave of absence from my career as an air traffic controller. I needed to take care of me, and made the biggest decision, that ultimately lead me to discover two of my biggest obsessions. Little did I know, that this decision would allow me to leave the fog and be healed.
People loosely say that “everything happens for a reason, and that when one door closes; another one will open and will bring you an even greater opportunity.” As I type, I finally believe this to be true. My two year battle through depression guided me to discover two new passions: amateur body-building and HUNTING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS.
I grew up around hunting and fishing, all my life. I remember Thanksgiving and winter days and weeks of my Dad and Uncles coming home after sunset with their prized bucks and delicious doe’s. I would watch them dress them in the garage or backyard and we’d harvest the organic meat on the kitchen counter the next morning.
Never did I think that several years later, after returning to Tennessee from California, that I’d be doing the same thing, with the same labor and joy. I remember telling my co-worker in the control tower, that in the event that my father passed away, that all I wanted was his mounted bucks and elks and his rifles!!
When hunting season 2013-2014 approached, my dad said “you want to go hunting this year?” I had completed my hunter’s safety course, the past summer and was ready more than ever.
He takes me to his human-sized rifle vault, and says you can take the Winchester 30 or the TC Venture Swedish Mauser. I am such a girl…. even though a “tom boy” at heart… I loved the T.C Venture’s grey, coal-ash and silver black tones and short barrel. I also liked how it felt sturdy in my hands and the stock fit seamlessly against the area between my shoulder and armpit. I felt a natural confidence with the Swede and after target practicing on the land, I learned that its kickback was light and unnoticeable. I loved the comfort and personal relationship of inserting one round at a time (which I pray over each bullet before each hunt), but I knew that this feature was perfect for me as a beginner hunter. Mr. Swede was my co-pilot.
Beyond my rifle selection, during my first hunting season, I found peace in the outdoors… I love hunting with my Dad; I love the bond and quality of time and the memories we make. The woods are quiet and free; the deer are ghosts, appearing mystically; they are in my opinion the most beautiful creature, after the giraffe. I love sitting in the deer stand with Mr. Swede at my corner; he’s my 7 year old 75 pound chocolate Labrador retriever; quiet and ready for action; we both await our next organic harvest.
Hunting and the outdoors gave me the heart of “BE STILL” and gratefulness. The feeling of the wind blowing icy-crisp air around my face and hitting the sweat on my forehead, from overdressing in thermal gear. My first season; Mr. Swede and I harvested 2 bucks and 2 doe’s, 4am mornings with my dad, eating “mom and pop” breakfasts as the Junction Cafe in Grand Junction, TN; and hour rides to and from the land with my dad that gave the time to listen, learn, and appreciate the present and the past.
On the last day of Hunting Season, on January 4th, “Matthew” made a mistake and stepped out in one of my lanes. The crazy part was that my dad had just called me on the radio to tell me to get ready to pack up in ten minutes. I was so noisy too; all season long Mr. Swede and I had been as quiet as toddlers hiding away in mischief. I was cleaning up the deer stand from used water bottles and granola bar wrappings with the sound of trash being balled up during a movie, in a theater.
I looked up, after having my head down for several minutes and there HE was… my boo….the buck that had been haunting me in the edge of tree-lines all season. He, Matthew, was gorgeous. He was the Chief of Hardeman County deer, and he was 40 yards from me and Mr. Swede. I did what my Dad taught me; I had to take a neck shot, because a vitals shot would have these beast running through the woods, and it would have been too dark later on the be able to track the blood. Surprisingly, the buck fever dizziness feeling did not hit me. My dad (in my heart), Mr. Swede and I were calm, free, healthy, humble, at peace, confident, smooth; I was loved and grateful. My TC Venture Swedish Mauser was lifted and firmly pressed next to me as one…my faithful and first hunting buddy…
Perfectly and swiftly, Mr. Swede laid “Matthew” to rest. He graciously dropped at the 40 yards ahead of us. I could not believe it, but Mr. Swede knew it, because he always gets the job done and done right. I called my Dad on the radio and said “WE (as in my Dad and I) GOT HIM.”