HUNTING -- Roberta Wise, 71, of Kennewick has been recalling a long, fruitful family history of hunting and fishing -- and she's never been on the sidelines just because she's a girl.
Wise submitted photos and a story to a contest the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department is sponsoring to select the cover photo for the 2015-16 state hunting regulations pamphlet.
For Wise, entering the contest opened a well of memories.
"I was given my first fly rod when I was 8 years old and have been an avid fisherwoman since then," she said, noting that her father learned hunting and fishing from friends and was eager to involve his wife and daughter. "I also fell in love during those childhood years outdoors with birds and became a birdwatcher."
Following are passages from a remembrance she wrote, concluding with a wish for her family:
From as far back as I can remember as a child I was taught gun safety. As a child I followed my father deer hunting, or sat on a stand with my mother while she was deer hunting. When I was old enough to begin shooting, there were many days of target practice leading up to my first deer season. My hunting was sitting with my mother on a stand where we shared one gun. Mom had it for a half hour, then it was my turn for the next half hour.
I did not start bird hunting until I was married in 1965. First my husband and I hunted waterfowl with our first dog, a Labrador retriever. As soon as our three children (two boys and a girl) were old enough to accompany us, they went along to sit in the blind. They loved getting to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate all morning. Over the years we owned five Labradors.
My two boys and their friend were with me in 1979 when I harvested a buck in Oregon. Both boys received shotguns as their high school graduation gift from Mom and Dad. Both sons are good hunters and hunt every year, one in Washington and one in Idaho. Our son-in-law has also taken up hunting after joining this family.
Our sons introduced us to upland bird hunting when they took up that endeavor during college years, and we fell in love with the sport. Our youngest son gave us a Vizsla pup. He said it is our “stay young program” -- keep up with the dog afield and it will help us stay young.
We do very much enjoy upland hunting with our dog and have enjoyed our three oldest grandchildren, who live in our town, being able to accompany us often. The day the family picture was taken (inset), the oldest granddaughter said she wanted a gun for her twelfth birthday and the younger girl said she wants to hunt when she grows up. I told them both they need to take Hunter Safety classes as the next step.
Our upland bird hunt in S.E. Oregon each of the last three years with our youngest son has included him carrying their daughter (now age 3) in a backpack while hunting (with hearing protection for her). Of course taking care of an infant, diaper changes and all, while hunting is a challenge and slows down the pursuit of game, but she so loves it.
This year at age 71 I am still deer hunting and successfully shot my buck during general season with my son and 8-year-old grandson watching, photographing me with my buck, and helping me care for the deer. We all enjoy eating venison.
I have been asked by each of our three children to help them teach their children what I taught them -- to love all of what is to be found afield in the beauty and wonder of nature, the importance of taking care of the resources we have been given, and appreciation for landowners’ great gift of allowing you to hunt on their property.
I hope my grandchildren will grow up as well-rounded outdoorsmen and women with values that all others, landowners and sportsmen, can admire.
I hope the hunting and fishing tradition will carry forward to many more generations in our family.