A 60-Year-Old Hunter’s Letter To Himself At 20
Veteran bowhunter and land expert Dan Perez grew up hunting the swamps of Florida in the 1970s. We asked Dan a question: if you could talk to yourself back then, what would you say? He wrote this thoughtful letter.
If the Florida sun has risen then you’re probably in the swamp with your recurve bow. Are you hunting rattlesnakes today? How many little bucks have you taken this season?
You’ll grow out of arrowing rattlers and young bucks. It won’t be long till you can pay for meat that’s more tender than snake and you’ll learn the value of letting those small bucks grow into big bucks.
You’re going to meet two people who will change your life.
The first is a beautiful girl named Anita. When you see her for the first time you’ll get a rush just like buck fever. Weak knees, dry mouth...the works. Show her that you work hard and you're a good man. You need her in your corner if you’re going to be able to hunt as much as I know you want to.
The second person is Pete Shepley. With Pete and his company, PSE Archery, you’ll forge a career in the outdoor industry and travel the across the country. You’ll hunt in places you now only dream about. You’ll meet incredible people and earn a living doing what you love. And you’ll work your butt off for every bit of it.
I have some tips for you that will make your life easier.
Leave the milk jug at home. Your pee won’t spook the deer. When you have to go, just let it flow. Wear a safety harness. They won’t look cool until around 2005 but if you don't start wearing one, you're going to fall out of your tree stand...twice. In the late 1980s you’ll meet a guy named Bill Jordan. No, he’s not crazy. In fact, ask if he's looking for a business partner.
On November 4, 1990 at 9:37 a.m., you're going to see the biggest buck of your life heading your way in the Illinois timber. Do. Not. Grunt.
You’re going to be a dad one day… and a granddad. That means everything you do – every animal you take, every game law you choose to follow or not, every place you visit – is preparing you to be a teacher and mentor. Your son will carry your last name and it’s your job to make sure that Perez is a name he wears as a badge of honor.
Be still for a second and look around you. You’re standing on American land. Do you realize how lucky you are?
Men have fought and died to protect it. Your grandparents gave up everything to come to the U.S. and raise a family on it. Those whitetails you love to chase? They rely on it for food, cover and water – everything they need.
Treat every path you walk, tree you climb and neighbor you meet with respect. Leave the land better than you found it. Learn to love the land with all your heart and through the land, all your dreams will come true.
I can't be there to help so if you need a hand, lean on God. Develop a personal relationship with Him much sooner than I did. If He is with you, nothing can stand against you.
I’ll see you in 40 years and trust me, it'll go by fast.
In the meantime, may your aim be true and your blood trails be short.
Your older, wiser self,