It’s not about the deer, or birds, or rabbits. It’s about our sons, and what they need from us, their fathers.
My youngest child, a boy of 3 years, has been begging to go hunting with me this year. It gives me occasion to reflect on the challenge of raising sons, especially today. Having taught at the college level now for over twenty years, I have ample occasion to observe the travails of boys facing the transition to manhood.
We wonder about boys’ seemingly endless energy, or their lack of it, the temptations they feel, and fall prey to; and why so many seem angry, lazy, self-indulgent, or sullen. I’m not a psychologist, and I do not purport to know all the causes. But I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to suggest that we focus on one thing in particular. Dad.
The human person who can best show boys who they are and how to live is for whatever reason often not around to do it. The result seems to be, among other things, palpable unhappiness of epidemic proportions. Mom can’t fill the hole; sisters can’t fill the hole; brothers and friends can’t fill the hole.
It needs to be Dad. Our sons are experiencing even if unconsciously an urgent need for more meaningful contact with us their fathers.
It goes without saying that fathers and sons do not need to hunt together. There are certainly other great father/son activities. The key is that we do need to do more of something together. And some somethings are better than others. From time immemorial certain activities seem custom designed to fit the bill, to fit the forest-sized hole in our sons’ experience.  Hunting—like fishing, gardening, and carpentry—is an archetype of the kind of activity that fathers need to do with their sons. A