I had someone ask me why I took the guide exam. They wanted to know if I was quitting my job to become a guide. I kind of laughed and said no, I like my job, and I’ve yet to find that elusive money tree. The next question was one I saw coming, “then why bother to get the patch?” Because I saw the question coming I was ready to answer. There is no one reason, there are several.
- House in the Woods http://www.houseinthewoods.org Because of my work as the Executive Director of a family foundation I was able to meet Paul and Dee House at their home in Lee, Maine. Their son Joel was killed in Iraq in 2007. As a retired Marine who had lost Marines, I was touched by their story and their quest to build a retreat for veterans and their families, as well as Gold Star Families. I attended a lunch with a group of veterans who were in for a bear hunt and what I saw only confirmed what I already knew. There is healing power in the woods of Maine. There is also an immense feeling of togetherness when veterans come together. Paul asked me if I wanted to go on a future hunt. I said no. I can hunt whenever I want and didn’t feel right taking someone else’s spot. What I wanted to do was help. I decided to help by becoming a guide.
- The power of the hunt. Today I watch people go to the grocery and buy a package of meat. They take it home, cook it, and eat it. They have no thought of where it came from, the chemicals and preservatives used in it, or how the animal was treated. Sure they’re feeding their family, but are you providing? There is an immense feeling of pride and satisfaction that occurs when a person takes to the woods and harvests an animal that has lived free of crowded commercial farms and chemicals. That person is providing the purest form of essential protein to their family. The hunter knows exactly what they are getting when they hunt.
- The connection to the past. In the past the provider took to the field to provide the winter meat for their family. It was not a pastime, or a sport, it was survival. All of us are hunters. It’s in our genetic make up. The desire to hunt exists in all of us but for some it is more dominant than for others. When a person taps into their desire to hunt they see the world through a different lens. One that clearly illuminates that although killing is the end result, their is little satisfaction. The satisfaction comes from the chase, and the freezer full of winter and spring meals provided to family, friends and neighbors.
I believe in the above reasons so much I wanted to show them to others. I want to take the person who has a desire to hunt and show them where to start. I want to take the person who was born and raised in a grocery store family and show them that there’s a better way than a Styrofoam wrapped, hormone injected piece of meat. I want to take the veteran suffering from visible, and invisible scars of war and show them that in a little corner of the Maine woods, next to a bubbling stream, as the sun crests the horizon, there is true peace.
That’s why I bothered to get the patch.