Monday, March 18, 2013

Dan Vogt Passes on The Hunting Heritage

By Brandon Butler

Dan Vogt is a field director for Whitetails Unlimited, covering Missouri and Arkansas, and he pretty much eats, drinks, and sleeps whitetails 365 days a year. So when Dan told me he had experienced the hunt of his life last season, I knew I had to hear about it.

The story wasn’t what I expected. He didn’t tell me about a double drop tine booner closing inside 20 yards. It wasn’t a story about a state record, or some big nasty freak animal. In fact, it wasn’t
about antlers at all. The story of Dan’s best hunt ever was of his 8-year-old son, Jacob, killing his first deer.

Jacob Vogt with his first deer.
Jacob Vogt, who is now nine, is your average boy. He enjoys spending time with his daddy, going to school, and playing video games. Deer hunting doesn’t consume him (yet), but since it is so important to his dad, Jacob has gravitated toward it. When he recalled to me the story of killing his first deer, a big healthy doe, there was excitement in his eyes, especially each time he looked up at his father as if to reconfirm the admiration being bestowed.

Like many young folks, and quite a few of us older guys too, Jacob doesn’t like sitting still for long. So when Dan and Jacob decided to call it quits on their ground blind hunt, they figured their chances of success were over. But on the way back to the truck, they jumped a group of deer from a ditch. They formulated a plan to sneak up on them and it worked.

“I was like 50/50 on whether or not I should take the shot, but I did, and I got her,” Jacob said.
Dan said it was really a pretty close shot and Jacob made it count. To young eyes, 60 yards is a mile. Consider buck fever and shaking hands, and it’s easy to understand how the youngster was hesitant to pull the trigger.

“I was so excited because I shot and I thought right away that I got it. I started calling all my family. I called grandma first because she’s the closest, just across the street,” Jacob said.

Dan said it was hard to put into words how much it meant to him to pass the tradition of hunting on to his son. Here’s a guy whose career is based on turning people into deer hunters and deer hunters into conservationists, but his ultimate reward was passing the flame to his own son. “When I grow up, I might work for my dad, maybe. If I’m not a professional swimmer,” Jacob said.

Well, whether or not Jacob ends up working for Whitetails Unlimited really doesn’t matter much. What matters is that at 9 years old, he’s an advocate with a story to tell. A story he’ll recount to his friends that may create a desire in them to venture into the deer woods. Hopefully, they’ll create their own stories too.

Each of you has an opportunity to connect with a child through nature. It doesn’t have to be deer hunting. Take your child fishing, or squirrel hunting, or just for a long nature hike. You don’t have to ban them from video games to inspire a love of being outdoors. Encourage a balance. You’ll be giving a child the gift of a lifetime, and you’ll never be more satisfied with yourself than when they look up at you and smile about nothing more than the pure joy of being outdoors.

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