By Molly Kirk
Photos by Meghan Marchetti
Each month in the Hunting Notes from the Field email, we at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are going to highlight one of our constituents and the role hunting plays in their life. For this first installment, we introduce you to Mindy Tucker, who is the Recreational Safety Trainer at DWR and a new hunter. Are you an avid hunter who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email [email protected] and let us know!
Name: Mindy Tucker
Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA
How did you get interested in hunting?
I never thought about hunting until I started working for the Department of Wildlife Resources. I attended a workshop for Hunter Education Instructors (Advanced Training), and I fell in love with the people, the hunters. I looked at photos of their harvests and listened to their hunting stories as their faces lit up with excitement and joy. As I grew closer with those hunters, I knew that I wanted to join the hunting community.
What do you love about hunting?
What I love most about hunting are the connections I make with other hunters and nature. I enjoy watching the woods wake up. I also love that I am able to provide tasty food for my family.
Who was your hunting mentor?
I am fortunate that I have a team of hunters supporting me. My hunting mentors include Jimmy Mootz, Zach Adams, David Dodson, David Hennaman and Aaron Grimsley.
What’s been your most memorable hunt?
My most memorable hunt was harvesting my first deer. On November 26, 2019, I hunted with one of my mentor, Zach Adams. I left my house at 2:30 a.m., feeling anxious. We didn’t see deer that morning but were able to come face to face with cattle and a donkey.
I led the discussion, talking about every hunting safety scenario that I thought I would encounter that day and my anxiety, because what if I couldn’t pull the trigger? Hours passed, then the moment came. We spotted a deer across the field. It was far enough away that we could move and communicate without scaring it away. I sat down, pointed the firearm and froze. I felt nervous, anxious, and sick to my stomach.
I remember thinking to myself, “Please don’t cry or wound this deer.” Then I heard Zach whisper, “Do you want to shoot it? It’s okay if you don’t.” To which I replied, “I do.” Then he whispered, “You can do it.”
I will never forget those words of encouragement. I don’t remember the few seconds that followed the shot. What I remember is shaking, feeling excited, disbelief, panic, and exhilaration, all at the same time! We waited, talked a few minutes (to calm me down, I think) then went to retrieve MY deer. I glanced into the back of my truck every 15 minutes on my 2.5-hour drive home to make sure I really did it. Hands down, one of the best days of my life! I can’t wait for fall!
Are you an avid hunter who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email [email protected] and let us know!