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Heritage of Hunting

By Dr. Deborah Weaver

That little fifth-grader with her first two pheasants is me, when I was 11 years old and hunting with my dad near my hometown of North Platte. Dad taught me to hunt, his dad taught him, and grandpa's mom taught him and his brother to hunt, mostly ducks on the Missouri River near Tekamah.

As an eleven-year-old, Weaver posed with a brace of pheasants.

Now my husband, Bob, and I, both doctors in North Platte, are teaching our six-and-a-half-year-old daughter Erin about hunting. We're bringing her along slowly - first on a BB gun in the backyard and now with a little .22 Chipmunk. Someday, when she's bigger and stronger, Erin will have a shotgun and hunt pheasants with us.

For me, hunting has always been a big family event and I can't wait for the first frost and opening day. It all begins with planning, finding places to hunt and asking permission. In this process, hunters, many of them from cities and towns, often develop the connections with farmers that most other city dwellers never make.

I'm an emergency room doctor and I recently treated a patient on whose farm we pheasant hunted when I was growing up. After treatment was finished, I reintroduced myself and we had a great conversation. They remembered the little kid and her dad who showed up on Saturday mornings asking permission to hunt. It was a good connection for me because those are great memories, but I also think it connected them to somebody from better times, especially in a sometimes intimidating place like an emergency department.

We often sit down at the coffee table with the farmer, have a sweet roll and coffee and end up talking about his issues - weather, commodity prices, "the program." I think most hunters often do this and as a result develop a better understanding of farmers and farming.

Deborah Weaver poses with her dog, Sweetie, and daughter, Erin, who is learning to hunt and enjoy the outdoors at an early age, just as her mother and grandfather did.

When we were living in Akron, Ohio, during my residency, my husband and I wanted to hunt, but had a hard time because the public land was so crowded. Most of the private land was leased or tied up by hunting clubs. We could have started practices in a bigger, busier place, but we recognized right away that wasn't the type of area we wanted to raise Erin. Moving back to Nebraska was an easy decision. It was a breath of fresh air, coming home with my family, to the same values, the same friendly countryside and the same great pheasant hunting and other outdoor experiences I knew while growing up.

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