Why I Took My 6 Year-Old on a Moose Hunt in Remote Alaska
“Uhm…. isn’t that dangerous? I mean he might get hurt.” That was my well-meaning, dream-stealing neighbor whose idea of adventure is getting a Venti coffee instead of a Grande at Starbucks.
“Hell yes it’s dangerous, but not as dangerous as your kid wasting away playing Fortnight or staring at an iPhone for hours on end!”
Here’s the thing. I’m building a man. Men get hurt. They take risks. They screw up. They overcome.
The Boy, William
William, often referred to as "the boy" by myself, is my boy! He’s 6 years old, and I’ve got three goals for him before he leaves my house.
- I want to equip him to find God on his own.
- I want him to love people and learn to serve others before himself.
- I want him to be able to solve problems.
So what does this have to do with an Alaskan moose hunt? Well, everything!
Should I? Or Should I NOT?
I guided hunts and adventures for more than 16 years before moving to Nashville to run Groove. The last two years have been amazing. It’s a new chapter, but I’ve been missing the adventure.
I got the text from my buddy in April. “Come up and let's go moose hunting this fall.” Oh man, my heart jumped. The motherland calls!
In all the planning, scheming, and getting permission from my wife, Katie, I struggled with a thought.
Should I take the boy? I really wanted to escape all of life’s cares and go alone on this adventure. I earned it, right? “Taking William would be a humongous pain,” I told my wife. “There will be crying, naps, whining, extra snack times, and even some homework.” (The whining would be from me.)
But I was really conflicted. I have goals for my kids. I have a responsibility to equip them for life.
Now William is about as good as he can be at 6. He’s an adventure junkie and has been driving boats, shooting guns, hiking, and fishing since before he could read. (He caught a nice Northern Pike when he was three all by himself.)
Bringing him would pretty much mean I’d have to be “on” full time. But if I wanted him to grow up to be a man, I knew he needed what this trip would offer:
Excitement. Uncertainty. Danger. Being uncomfortable. Boredom (no devices allowed). Hard work. Adventure. Fear. Problems to be solved. Connecting with nature. Harvesting. Cleaning and eating an animal from the wild.
I have this fear of failing as a father. I suppose it comes from looking around at a generation or two of fatherless kids and the passive, bored adults they’ve become. I vowed pretty early that my kids would be different. I pray about it a lot.
I asked him what he thought about going with me to hunt for moose, and he about exploded with excitement. I was in now, like it or not.
We landed in Anchorage and promptly flew out in my friend’s Cessna 180, a 4- seater bush plane. The next 9 days were heaven for me. No cell phones. No screens. No schedule. We hunted every morning and night, with some naps in-between.
If you’ve never been, let me tell you, moose hunting in remote Alaska is an adventure. When these 1,500-pound beasts are in breeding season, calling, tracking, and harvesting is an amazing adrenaline rush.
Stalking moose with a 6 year old in tow is no small feat. They can hear like no other animal. Their huge antlers act as funnels to their 12-inch ears. Luckily, we were in a great area with plenty of moose. And being 150 miles from the nearest road puts these animals at ease year-round.
Building a Man
The boy crushed it. He woke up early every day, slid on his hunting boots and jacket, and grabbed his .22 long rifle. He patiently followed me over mountains, through bogs, and across streams - even in pouring, cold rain.
Sure, he complained, cried, got hurt, and got angry, but he persevered. He THRIVED!
I’ve never seen him come alive like he did during those 9 days. We flew airplanes, drove ATV’s, hiked miles and miles, started fires, killed squirrels and ate them, swam in a freezing lake, made a fort in the forest, played cards, wrestled, sawed down trees, dammed a creek for fun, skipped rocks, and harvested and butchered a huge moose. We even chased a howling wolf up a mountain.
The boy was taking his first steps to manhood.
Will I Do It Again?
Yes. And no. I probably would’ve had more fun just focusing on myself. There will be trips where it’s just myself, or just my wife and I. Those are important. But to see my son mature, grow, and come alive was absolutely priceless.
I think it’s important to include my kids in situations where they’re NOT the center of attention. My kids need to be caught up in something bigger than themselves. Your kids, or future kids, are the same way. Invite them in!
Left unchecked, our selfish nature will ruin us. Deep down we all want to get caught up in a bigger story, drama, war, or cause bigger than ourselves. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about you.
Go live a story so you can invite them along. It doesn’t matter what it is or how exciting or boring it is. What matters is that you invite them into it.
It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that they help you in setting a goal, and participate in the struggling, failing, conquering, and achieving process.
It’s good for your kids to see you struggle or not know exactly what to do. They’ll learn how you overcome and copy you when they face their own challenges.
So you don’t know how to fish, hunt or work on cars? Great! Learn with them. Youtube anything you want to do, figure it out and lead them. As someone once told me, “An expert is someone who knows 10% more than you do”.
Let me close by saying that I definitely don’t have it all together. I’m failing forward as a husband, father, and in business. I love my family and I’m dead-set on getting it right and leaving a legacy for my kids to follow. It might be messy, but I’ll get there. You will too.
If you don't know but want to, the time is now. Just start researching.
Keep Groovin’. Keep Adventuring!