When picturing an average north Raleigh kid a middle class, good student may come to mind. Maybe someone who participates in dance, or plays on a soccer team after school. But some students at Leesville hunt: killing animals for sport.
Hunting may seem like a peculiar activity for teenagers to participate in. It may be thought that hunting is old fashioned, or cruel. However, 16 and 17 year olds make up 4% of all hunters according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The main reason why students are becoming involved in hunting, is family tradition. Hunting seems to be introduced from generation to generation.
“I started hunting when I was six with my dad and grandpa. I grew up in family who likes to hunt and fish,” said Chris Phinney, junior.
Victoria Blalock, sophomore, also grew up in a family that hunts. “It’s been going on through our family for a long time, my dad’s grandpa hunted.” Blalock started hunting at a young age. “My dad introduced me to it when I was two. I grew up around it, it stuck with us.”
”My dad’s a big hunter, he’s taken me with him since I was little,” said Thomas Sanders, senior. “I always shot stuff with BB guns when I was little, I didn’t start hunting hard until middle school.”
Hunting at Leesville is a family activity. Blalock said,”My whole family does it, I usually go with my dad, it makes it fun. We do it every year together.”
These students aren’t dragged out hunting by their parents, they genuinely love the sport for multiple reasons. Sanders said, ”It’s fun because you have to outsmart the animal.” He adds, “Duck have really good eyesight, and they’re picky about where they want land. You’ve got to fool them.”
Phinney said, “I just enjoy sitting out in a tree stand, I’ve enjoyed it ever since I started.”
Surprisingly, hunting is relaxing for Blalock. “I like being out there and it’s really quiet. It’s cool seeing the animals up close.”
Ms. Long, Spanish Teacher, also enjoys hunting. “I love being in the country, and being able to sit in a tree stand. You have to be quiet, its amazing the peace you feel.”
Only 9% of hunters are female. Blalock said, “People nag on you cause they think it’s for boys.” She also said, “People say that I’m going to cry when I shoot it [an animal], but I don’t.”
These students don’t rely on hunting for food, but they don’t let the animal go to waste. Sanders said, “I eat it all. It doesn’t go to waste.” He adds, ”Deer’s my favorite, after that I like duck.”
Blalock’s family also doesn’t waste the animals. “If we don’t eat all of it, we give it to Hunters for the Hungry,” which is a shelter that provides venison for hungry people in North Carolina.
In the middle of suburban Raleigh, there is obviously nowhere to hunt safely. Families buy land in other regions of the state, or even out of state, specifically for hunting. “I hunt all around North Carolina, west, east, central,” said Phinney. “There is a spot I got in Apex, probably about 100 acres, that’s got a lot of deer on it.”
Sanders, said,”My dad’s best friend has a farm in Georgia where I hunt. I also hunt at Hyco Lake, my neighbors have fields where were we plant millet.” He adds that deer like to eat millet, so he is very successful when he hunts in that field.
This year’s hunting season starts around October and November for most areas in North Carolina. Each season, hunters are allowed a certain number of animals; this is to keep animal populations from dwindling. Leesville’s hunters have specific goals for this season.
Sanders said, “I want to get a big dear with big antlers. I also want to kill my limit of ducks.”
Phinney has similar goals, “I want to fill out all my tags, and kill a big buck.”
Hunting is an activity enjoyed by few Leesville families. It’s often overlooked by those who do not participate in it, but for some Leesville students, hunting is a huge part of their family lives.