Dad inspires young hunter’s winning essay

Dylan Hansen needed inspiration. The St. Charles High School junior was faced with writing an essay for a National Wild Turkey Federation youth outreach program, and the only thing he was told was the essay’s subject: "Hunting Is About...."

The junior in Craig Will’s Natural Resources and Wildlife Management class thought what hunting means to him. Maybe he could write about the history of hunting or something like that, but he just wasn’t sure.

He waited. Eventually, it was the last minute.

Then Dylan thought about all the time he’s spent in the woods hunting turkeys and deer with his dad, Larry Hansen. The obvious hit him — his dad was his inspiration. "Cuz he’s like the one who has gotten me into it, that’s how we spend most of our time," he said.

Imagine that — a father inspiring a son to write.


From that point on, the words poured out of him. It’s a lot easier to write when you know what you’re writing about, when you know the subject intimately.

Wills made a few corrections and suggestion, and Dylan fixed up his copy and sent it off to the federation’s JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) contest.

His essay won the contest, and you can read it on this page.

Next Thursday, he and his dad will leave their home on the edge of the Whitewater Valley near Elba and drive to El Dorado, Kan., to be guests at the 2008 Kansas Governor's One-Shot Turkey Hunt, an event that promotes Kansas’ outdoors offerings. It’s like Minnesota’s Governor’s Deer Opener, that promotes the state’s deer hunting and other tourism. During the two days of guided hunting, Dylan can shoot up to two Rio Grande turkeys.

Being the inspiration for an essay kind of amused his dad, who works for the Olmsted County Highway Department. He has an "aw-shucks attitude" and a quiet grin. He just loves to hunt just about anything, and has since he was growing up in Elba. His father didn’t hunt much, but friends and his brothers got him started..

Dylan’s first memory of hunting with his dad was "sitting with him on stand and deer hunting when I was 10." He wasn’t inspired to do anything but want to leave — it was cold and boring.

But a deer came in sight, then another. "It was fun," he said.

It’s amazing how seeing wildlife warms a 10-year-old. He became interested in hunting, and now has two deer heads mounted in his bedroom.


But deer aren’t his top game — it’s turkeys. They’re more of a challenge, he said.

"You have to call them, it takes more skill," he said. "You have to be a lot quieter."

He has a glass/slate call and is sounding pretty good. He’s not ready for contests, and he won’t compete with his guides in Kansas, but his yelp and whine are good enough to fool many toms. His next challenge will learning not to gag on a mouth call.

The final proof that Dylan is really into hunting is mornings, his dad said.

When they began, he’d have to roust his son, who wasn’t super interested.

Today, he gets out of bed and goes out on his own.

Inspiration does work.

John Weiss is the Post-Bulletin’s outdoors writer. If you have comments or story ideas, call him at 285-7749.

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