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A New Hunter

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In 2022 as a brand-new hunter, I become a part of the Sharing the Land group and was lucky enough to spend time at the Duren farm. I have always been fascinated and appreciative of the outdoors. My passion for nature began as a child and continued to guide me into a career in wildlife ecology uniting my professional and personal interests. Conservation and wildlife management have always been important parts of my life. I greatly enjoy outdoor recreation and I love eating game meat, becoming a hunter has always felt like the next step.

As a part of Sharing the Land I had the opportunity to learn how to hunt in a safe, supportive environment, with the best mentors imaginable. At the same time, I was encouraged to develop a relationship with the land I was harvesting from, something that was extremely important to me. I would have never felt comfortable as a new hunter asking for permission to hunt on someone else’s land, and I would have never felt comfortable going out on public land alone for my first gun hunt. But Sharing the Land is not about gaining permission, it’s about community. I’m a very independent person, for a long time I had this idea in my head that I could do it myself. I have always envied the self-sufficiency of hunters, and after killing about 6 squirrels I considered myself a successful hunter. While it was empowering shooting my first deer and knowing I had food security. After dragging my first deer up a hill and butchering three in a row, I also realized how much help I needed. Without the mentorship and guidance of Brock I do not think I would have successfully harvested a deer. In addition to educating me about the practice of hunting, the people I met and the conversations I had at the Duren farm largely shaped my hunting ethic and perspective. While I was overjoyed to shoot my first and second deer ever gun opening weekend at the Duren farm, my favorite memories are not the ones you would expect. I spent a lot of time on the Duren farm wandering around the woods, my favorite memories are from times where I was just an observer, experiencing nature passively. Watching squirrels stashing acorns. Deer fighting during the rut. Walking through the woods to the tree stand as fat snowflakes fell around me. Seeing my favorite tree. Foraging for mushrooms and berries. Memories I share with others. Even today as I write this from a state thousands of miles away, I continue to feel deep respect and awe for the Duren farm and the creatures that inhabit it. I was able to foster a deep relationship with where my food came from.

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Sharing the Land is not only a partnership with a landowner, but also a partnership with the land. There is a huge emphasis on reciprocity, a give-and-take, and a duty to the land and the flora and fauna that inhabit it. A duty to take care of and conserve our natural resources for future generations. Doug is proactive about conservation, he has taken the initiative upon himself as a private landowner, and truly exemplifies “It’s not ours, It’s just our turn”. It was amazing being surrounded by people so passionate about conservation and science-based wildlife management. People who are willing to put in a hard day’s work and do it themselves.

I know I am not the only person who thinks the Duren farm is magical, and holds it close to heart. That’s part of the magic, that Doug and other landowners are so willing to share their little slice of heaven.

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