My father and grandfather were cattle ranchers so I have been connected to the outdoors since day one. Ranchers and farmers are the stewards of our environment. I was taught respect for the flora and fauna and to act responsibly in regard to the decisions I made in and outdoors. My father started taking me hunting at an early age. I can't remember ever questioning why we hunted, we just hunted. I relished the time spent hunting with my father, brother, friends, and retrievers. I loved being in the field somewhere when the sun rose, the smell of burnt powder, the friendly competition, the camaraderie at the truck at lunch time while dressing birds, and of course the delicious fruits of our labor.
When I was 13, I showed interest in hunting something bigger than dove and ducks, so my father enrolled me in the Arizona Game and Fish Department's "Hunter Education Course." After successfully completing the course I was legally qualified to hunt big game in Arizona. Shortly thereafter we discussed what I wanted to hunt. We decided I should cut my teeth on a javelina. Dad spent that winter familiarizing me with his saddle gun, an old Savage model 99 chambered for the.300 Savage. He spent time with me at the Tucson Rod and Gun Club to help me develop my marksmanship. We also spent time in the field where I shot a coyote and a couple rabbits. All the while dad would remind me of the importance of safety.
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
2. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
3. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it "Remember, firearms are mechanical and anything mechanical is prone to failure.Be safe."
The following February he had enough confidence in my maturity and skills to take me on my first big game hunt. After 3 days of hunting hard in the Sonora Desert I harvested a javelina. The excitement took its toll. It took more than one shot and, it wasn't pretty. But, my father was proud. "You got the job done" he said. It was exhilarating. I knew then I would always be a hunter.
About that time I developed a zeal for reading. My mother was a high school teacher and encouraged me to read everything. Newspapers like the "Tucson Citizen", magazines like "Boys Life","Outdoor Life", and "Field and Stream" and a variety of books filled my free time. Writers and outdoors men like Bill Quimby, Bob Hirsch, Jim Zumbo, Dr. Wayne Van Zwoll, Fred Bear, Jack O'Connor, and Zane Grey fueled my desire to hunt, fish and explore.
In the spring of 1976 my mother gave me a first edition copy of Robert Ruark's "Horn Of The Hunter." My studies suffered that week, as I was awake late into the night reading by flashlight, under the covers, about Mr. Ruark's adventure. I still have that book as well as others by Mr. Ruark, Capstick, Hemingway, Roosevelt, and Boddington. Reading of their travels, the different eco systems in which they hunted, and the thought of hunting several different species all on one safari was fantastically exciting.
Then, in 1988 Safari Club International Foundation opened the International Wildlife Museum in my home town of Tucson Arizona.The exhibits in the museum are both educational and entertaining. I have spent many hours wandering through these exhibits. If you are ever in Tucson I would highly recommend taking the tour.
SCIF encourages all of their members to participate in its humanitarian programs. When I make the trip to Africa I'll be taking along a "Safari Care" blue bag. The blue bag is filled with donated school supplies, clothing, simple medical supplies and its contents distributed at schools and clinics near the hunting area.
I have been fascinated with Africa for over 30 years. I have read countless books, viewed documentaries, and spoken with hunters who have been there. But, I'll never know what it's like to spot game from a termite mound, what a herd of wildebeest smells like, or determine what the bark of a baobab feels like unless I'm there. I would like to hunt in Africa for the same reasons I've always had to hunt. Foremost, because I am a hunter, hunting is what I do and what I aspire to do. Hunting in Africa would satisfy my curiosities of 30 years. I would like to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of Africa and to revel in its bio diversity, sunrises, and sunsets. I'd like to experience the camaraderie around an African campfire at days end. I would have the opportunity to meet the people of Africa and learn about their cultures and traditions. Finally, and perhaps most important, as the accomplished hunter I have become, I would like to hunt in Africa and see Africa with the enthusiasm of that exhilarated young boy hunting his first javelina and with the eyes and heart of that young man reading Ruark's adventure under the bed covers so many years ago.
It is a sign of the times I guess and an indicator of just how lazy people are...........but I find it interesting how so many did not spend the time it takes to enter this contest and instead took the easy route of entering a contest where all you had to do was say "Enter me." Louis committed a considerable amount of his time and services when he offered this package.
All I can say is WELL DONE to both ThomasBeaham and Louis.