Father-Daughter Bonds Strengthen Through Hunting

Father-Daughter Bonds Strengthen Through Hunting

“Fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter's life. Daughters need the support that only fathers can provide—and fathers are far more powerful than many themselves believe.”
—Dr. Meg Meeker, Pediatrician and Author of “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know” 

Growing up in Colorado, many of Trinity’s earliest and favorite memories are of camping and fishing with her dad and extended family. From four-wheeling the Rocky Mountains to horseback riding, hiking and boating—each of these experiences solidified her bond with her father. 

My first call to Trinity found her sitting high in the Rocky Mountains beside a freshly drilled hole for a day of ice fishing with her “hero,” as she calls her dad. My second call found her warmer and sharing that for as long as she could remember, she has been interested in the outdoors. Her dad has always been an outdoorsman, and she knew from an early age she, too, wanted to be one. She earned her hunter safety certification at the age of 13 and could hardly wait to see what hunting entailed. When asked what her favorite sport in the outdoors was and why, without hesitation, she replied, “It is definitely big-game hunting with my dad and family because it gives me a thrill and it is a great bonding experience where my dad is always teaching me new things and gives me a great respect for both firearms and nature.” 

When not outdoors with her dad or at school enjoying her favorite subject of art, Trinity relaxes to The Outdoor Channel and finds Kristy Titus to be her favorite sportswoman to watch. In fact, her dream hunt would be with Titus. Trinity’s prized adventure, though, happened last fall during Colorado’s third season for deer and fourth season for elk.

“I had a buck tag [a two-year wait that required earning two preference points] and over-the-counter bull and cow elk tags,” she explained, as that region of the state permits taking more than one elk in a given season. “Every year we meet up with a bunch of family members and friends and set up an enormous elk camp, as we call it, outside of Craig, Colo. Family comes in from all over Colorado, and some even from out of state. Every night we all join in front of the campfire, visiting and laughing. We end the night in the trailer, packing our day packs for the next day’s hunt, which will start at 5 a.m.” 

Trinity recalls hunting during third season for a buck. “I had so many great opportunities to shoot massive bucks, but I couldn't get an ethical shot on the one I wanted,” she shared. She ended up missing a 5-by-4 buck at 300 yards and toward the end of the season things still were not coming together. Then, on the second to last night she and her dad were driving back to camp when her dad spotted a 3-by-2 buck at about 50 to 60 yards.

“Together we got out of the truck and moved in to set up for the shot,” she said. “The buck was behind a bush, and I could only see the head. I had to visualize the body and where I needed to line up my shot, so as soon as the buck moved out from the bush, I would be ready. I lined up the buck in my scope and took the shot just as he stepped out of the bush. I remember my dad being so excited and hugging me and my adrenaline was racing. We went out to the buck and tagged it and took pictures.” 

Their success did not end there. After loading her buck into the truck, the father-daughter duo continued the drive back to camp. “Then my dad, who also had a third-season buck tag, spotted a 5-by-4 and was able to line up his shot as well,” she said. “We found ourselves celebrating once again. We were in for a late evening cleaning both bucks all the while laughing and having a great time remembering our day together.”

A few day’s rest would see Trinity and her dad and their hunting party ready for their fourth-season elk hunts. Trinity anticipated tagging her first elk. After spending opening morning scoping out the mountain and looking at elk from their vantage point, they realized they would need to hike for about 2 miles uphill. They set up where they had spotted the elk and waited patiently for hours.

“That afternoon about 3 p.m. the elk began to move down the side of the hill into a bowl,” she said. “My dad made the call to wait patiently while they all made their way into the bowl. … we made our move and set up quietly. At about 4 p.m. the elk began cresting the hill in front of us at about 100 yards. I picked out a good cow that was in an open area and not surrounded by any calves or spikes. Once I felt comfortable that I had an ethical shot, I took the shot.”

The cow ran about 30 yards and was down. “Once we saw my cow drop, we all started celebrating and cheering because I had harvested my first elk,” she said. “After all the celebration, we realized we had a lot of work ahead of us because my uncle harvested a cow from the same herd.”

Nightfall was coming fast and Trinity with her hunting group had to work quickly and efficiently to maximize the amount of daylight remaining. Quartering both cows, everyone in the group pitched in to carry the elk meat and gear down the mountain. It was dark and headlamps were used to light the three-hour hike down the mountain. As soon as they got to the truck and started heading back to camp, exhaustion hit hard and Trinity’s adrenaline crashed. Once back in camp, a second wind filled them as they celebrated as a group and told their stories to others in camp who were not with them on the mountain that afternoon. Relaxing in their chairs, they listened to music around the campfire, told jokes and went over strategies and plans for the next day for those who still had tags to fill.  

I asked Trinity, “What do you wish people knew and understood about the adventures of our great outdoors and the benefits of legal, regulated hunting?” She thoughtfully replied, “I wish people knew that it's not about harming animals, but rather helping the animal population. I have a lot of respect for animals and their natural habitat. I want people to know that it's a great way for me to enjoy a sport I love while providing food for my family. It's important to be ethical and gun safety is extremely important. It's an incredible time to bond with friends and family.”

Trinity aspires to be in the military and law enforcement. In her more immediate future, she plans to elk hunt again this fall. This time around she hopes to fill that bull tag and take her first bull elk.

It is my hope that families, dads especially, are reminded of the priceless value their leadership and mentorship have in the lives of their daughters and sons. Never underestimate the power of your time in parenting. And what greater place to invest that time than in the great outdoors—a natural, culturally-rich platform that is not tainted by today’s pop culture. 

About the Author
Lori Pace resides in Colorado with her family. She is a high school teacher and is married to Anthony N. Pace, founder of Freedom Hunters. Lori enjoys a multitude of outdoor opportunities with her favorites being pheasant and antelope hunting. When not teaching or hunting, Lori enjoys the quiet found in reading, writing and print design for various professional platforms.

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