Hunting is less about taking game than planting values and reaping memories
For thousands of residents of the upper Texas coast, hunting is a way of life. Some say the sport allows them to spend quality time with family and friends, while others say it helps instill core values such as respect, patience and discipline in their households. And for most, it’s a valuable family tradition carried on from generation to generation.
Each year, Dickinson resident Joe Link and his family spend time at their property near Jefferson, Texas, working the land and hunting.
“Hunting provides me with a means of connecting with nature in a way that things are supposed to operate,” Link said.
“We get caught up with going to the grocery store, grabbing some processed meat off of the shelf, paying for it, and taking it home; harvesting an animal and then processing it to put food on your family’s table is much more of a primitive, natural way of life that I really do love.”
Link uses hunting to show his children the importance of slowing down and appreciating nature, which brings the family together, he said.
“Our situation is unique in that we don’t have a hunting lease,” Link said. “Instead, we’re fortunate enough to hunt on land that has been in the family for decades. I’ve been able to explain to my kids that it’s the same land that their ancestors hunted on as early as the late 1800s, and that has been pretty special.
“We are enjoying the same sport and activities that they pursued, and this has created a more intense appreciation for the land from my family.”
Link’s 19 year-old-son, Nate, has followed in his father’s footsteps to become an avid hunter.
“It’s been awesome to share my passion with him and to see his hunting skills develop,” Link said. “Hunting together has definitely strengthened the bond between us.”
Link’s 12-year-old daughter, Averie, hasn’t caught the hunting bug quite yet, but she wants to be out there with the family enjoying the outdoors, he said.
“She enjoys putting on camouflage clothing, and even paints her face to go sit in a blind with me,” Link said. “That desire to spend quality time with family while experiencing nature transcends hunting. That’s what it’s all about.
“Even though she isn’t harvesting the animal, she still is exposed to the core values of respecting the land and wildlife, and the discipline it takes to become a proficient hunter.”
Texas City resident Jay Welch is another whose family has been hunting for generations.
“My three sons are third-generation hunters,” Welch said. “My dad was an avid hunter and outdoorsman. He hunted everything from deer, dove and ducks, to varmints and hogs.
“He passed his passion for the sport on to me, along with the values of hunter safety and game management, and an overall appreciation for the land and the outdoors.”
Some of the best moments he shared with his father occurred while hunting, Welch said.
“Most of our family was from deep South Texas, where the white-winged dove hunting is outstanding,” Welch said. “Labor Day weekend was always like a family reunion because we would travel down to South Texas and all go dove hunting together. It was something that I looked forward to every year.”
Welch wanted to pass the same traditions on to his children, he said.
“My sons, Aaron, Ryan and Colin, have all been able to spend time with me and each other, while hunting a variety of game,” Welch said. “I often tell people that you can really get to know your children when you spend three or four hours with them in a deer blind.
“Over the years, those have become some of my favorite times spent with my sons, and I look forward to many more years of making excellent memories with them while hunting.”
Time spent in a blind with his sons has never been about harvesting an animal, he said.
“It’s all about the experience and the quality time spent together,” Welch said. “As a dad, I think I get more excited each time one of my sons gets a shot opportunity, rather than when it’s my turn to shoot.”
Welch was in the blind when each one of the boys harvested his first deer, he said. All three took their first bucks with the same rifle he had used to fell his first, he said.
“It’s a Winchester .243-caliber rifle that was a 14th birthday present to me from my Dad,” Welch said. “Talk about traditions and special memories. I couldn’t be more proud that my sons were all able to harvest their first buck with that gun.”
Welch recently accomplished one of his lifelong dreams of owning his very own slice of Texas.
“Owning a piece of property to hunt on has been a dream of mine since my early teens, and about three years ago, we were able to make that dream a reality,” Welch said.
Welch’s hunting property is near Center, Texas, in Shelby County, and is teeming with game. He and his family are looking forward to creating many lasting memories hunting this land together, he said.
I can relate to both Welch and Link. My son Waylon, almost 3, has already spent time in the field and blind with me. Deer, turkeys, doves, hogs and ducks are among his favorite animals.
Hunting also is among my favorite ways to escape reality. The serenity of the woods and becoming one with the outside is an indescribable experience. It allows you to step back and examine your life.
Hunting season is upon us and it will pass far too quickly. I challenge you to get outside with those you love the most, and enjoy it.