What happens when two parents are both avid hunters and you start to build a family? Does one person stay home all the time? Do you hire a nanny or recruit family members to watch the kids? Do you put your dreams on pause until your kids enter school? Navigating a life in the outdoors can be a challenge when you add kids into the equation, but instead of looking at it as a negative, I like to see those parents who are using it as a way to pass on the hunting heritage! Sam Owens first caught my eye on social media last year when she posted a photo of a bear she had harvested while pregnant. I thought, "Daaaaang, that's my kind of mom!" As I've continued to follow Sam, and her husband Zach, they just keep killin' it, (literally) with their son Isaac in tow! Just recently Sam harvested a mountain lion with Isaac along and I wanted to know how the heck they managed to do it. After a quick interview with Sam, here's how her and Zach made it work...
Sam, what was your prep like going into the trip with Isaac?
We just got super lucky! We are currently managing a large 7,000 acre ranch and see lion tracks often! The week before I shot my tom, Zach had taken the dogs out a lot and treed 3 other cats! One sunny afternoon we hopped on the snowmobile with a bundled up baby and cut a fresh track. Isaac and I hung out on the hill while Zach freshened it up and let the dogs go. We ran back to the house, grabbed my bow, added a layer to the baby’s outfit and then made it to the first tree. We didn’t have much time to prepare anything, really!
How did Isaac do, and you guys do, during the hunt?
Isaac absolutely LOVES being outdoors. We have been on a few hikes up here in the snow and he is used to sitting on my hip while I take care of the dogs or we shoot our bows out back. Isaac is also obsessed with the dogs so watching and hearing them keeps him entertained forever. Throughout our video of the cat hunt you can hear him yelling “DOG!” about every four seconds. He is a very calm baby and really just goes with the flow. Luckily I had fed him well before we went out so he was perfectly content. On our way out after shooting the lion, Zach was packing Isaac up an EXTREMELY steep mountainside and a big chunk of snow fell on them from a tree. That’s the only time Isaac got upset during the trip. When we made it back up to the snowmobile, Isaac fell asleep instantly sitting between Zach and I. We are very lucky to have such an easy going baby!
Was it manageable and would you do it again?
I won’t lie, it was chaotic! Zach was trying to handle the dogs, hold Isaac and catch the whole encounter on video, while trekking through 3-4 foot snow drifts. By the fourth tree, we were both getting a little short with each other! I would definitely do it again! (not sure about Zach though :))
What are some tips or advice you would give other hunters who want to take their littles out?
I think it is important to get them out young! Last spring we went to Washington to turkey hunt with some good friends of ours and Isaac was only 7 weeks old. He stayed with my friend while the boys took me out, but we made sure to get him outside to see both of our toms after shooting. We encourage touching the animals and he always wants to grab sticks while we walk. We go on hikes or short walks outside our house ALL the time and he loves it. The hardest part for Isaac is being bundled up, he dislikes layers when he can’t move freely. I would recommend finding a good snowsuit and a comfortable baby carrier! We use one from Mission Critical, although we did not take it in the deep snow on my lion hunt.
I can imagine having Isaac along was hard, but extremely rewarding at the same time. Is this just the first of many family hunts for the Owens Family?
Like I said before, we go out almost daily to do some kind of exploring. When the weather is bad we still try to at least drive around. Isaac has been with us turkey hunting, out on the trapline all winter, and on a couple lion races. We plan to go shed hunting as soon as the weather warms up a bit. Our baby doesn’t even have a choice, he is in a hunting family! His first word was “deer” and he is OBSESSED with mounts of every animal. I think he will enjoy hunting alright...