First Bow Blood

I poured a cup of coffee early this morning and decided to enjoy it on the patio.  Upon opening the back door, a freshness in the air struck me.  It was much cooler and crisper than it had been in many months.  I walked across the patio and took a seat in my favorite porch rocker.  There is something powerful about a warm cup of coffee, with extra cream, combined with cool, crisp air that brings contentment to my  soul.  Reflectively sitting in the rocker, the change in the air brought about thoughts of opening deer season.  Our son, Ryan called yesterday to tell us that he was on his way to Weimer, Texas with his friend Mr. John Zuilhof to bow hunt. This news was no surprise. His passion for hunting of any kind runs deep in his blood.

Double Whammy Trophies in South Texas

As I thought about Ryan’s hunt, special childhood memories of my life warmed my heart.   I remembered my dad, holding a flashlight to illuminate the path while “running” mink traps along the rice canals and road ditches.  I also have flashbacks of trailing beagle dogs chasing rabbits, darting between clumps of tall grasses on the Katy prairie.  As an older child, I anxiously waited  for my dad to return home from deer hunting, anticipating a big buck in the bed of his truck.  Those were the days before cell phones and so it was always a surprise whenever Dad would pull into the driveway with a deer because he had no way of phoning ahead to report the news.  It was during these adventures that my dad taught his children life lessons which have been passed down to him by his dad, and would continue being passed down through generations.  As a child, I didn’t realize the memories formed or lessons learned through observations made with him in the wilderness.  It is only now as an adult that I can truly appreciate these precious moments in time that I wish I could relive

Bill Delivering Hunters to the Blinds


Based on the environment in which I grew up, it was only natural that I would be attracted to, and one day marry a man who thrived on pulling a trigger or throwing a lure into the water.  It is what I know.   So, I sat in the quietness of the beautiful morning, enjoying my  cup of  delicious coffee and recalling the special time that our family has enjoyed together whether we hunkered down in a hole in the ground, covered with white rags waiting for snow geese to land in a frozen rice field, sitting quietly high in a tree, in the woods wondering if the big one would step in front of us, or riding in a tower on top of an all-terrain vehicle scoping out Javelina hogs and Bobcats in the wild brush of south Texas.  Hunting is one of life’s greatest pleasures for our family.


With a slight breeze blowing and the sun beginning to rise, my thoughts were lost recalling  fond memories of our son, Ryan and his obsession with guns starting at the age of two.  Anywhere that Ryan was, I could count on finding a toy rifle or pistol within his short reach.  Ryan’s obsession with guns grew as he was allowed to hold, with supervision, his Papaw’s long rifles and shotguns. When he was strong enough to hold and balance a rifle,  Papaw bought Ryan his first gun; a very small .22 youth rifle.  Thus began many years of imparting hunting skills and life lessons into a child.  He was barely six years old the first time that my dad took him deep into the woods along with his hunting dogs to chase, corner and capture wild hogs.  His instruction to Ryan was to hold on to his back pocket and not to let go in order that Ryan would not be left and lost in the thicket.  Ryan was only eight when my dad sat with him in a tree stand, in a massive old oak tree, and instructed him when to pull the trigger in order to bring to the table, Ryan’s first buck.  There were some mornings in past seasons, that I took Ryan to hunt in the early morning hours, before school.  Loaded with a thermos of coffee and a warm blanket, I sat in the truck, listening for a shot.  Ryan has killed many deer and mounted a few as prize trophies since his first experience.  Using skills learned from his dad and Papaw, he has guided others to shoot their first trophy.

Beth Zuilhof's first trophy hunt guided by Ryan

About midway through my first cup of coffee, I was softly brought back to the moment at hand by the quiet ding of a text message from my cell phone.   It caught my attention because I generally do not get text messages so early in the morning.  Picking up my phone, I tapped on the screen.  Before my eyes, was a single snapshot with no caption.  The picture of a deer on the ground with an acutely accurate placement of the arrow to the vitals.  The photo said it all.  This kill would go down in history as Ryan’s first deer killed with his Matthews bow.  He has been hunting for five seasons with his bow prior to contacting his target today.  A progression of bow skills gained by many hours of dedicated practice along with the lessons of life passed down have brought him to this day. Excitement stirred my heart as I stared at the photo of Ryan’s first blood with his bow.  Ryan has proven himself fully equipped to continue the legacy of hunting into the next generation.

Dedicated Practice