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I was born and raised on a small ranch Northwest of Fort Worth, Texas. The creek bordering our property provided an outlet to the outdoors. With my grandfather, when I was younger, and on my own, as I aged, I would walk up and down the creek, exploring its wonders. In the evenings, my grandfather and I would go on “game drives” in his 1950’s model Willy’s Jeep. At the conclusion of these drives, I would rattle off a detailed list of our observations: “Two coyotes, three deer (two does and one buck), and a barred owl”. Aside from my childhood adventures around the house, my stepfather and I also spent weekends and holidays hunting white-tailed deer and fishing. My exposure to wildlife as a child had a lasting impression.
However, the experiences that gave me an introduction to the outdoors, were not what kept me connected to nature through the years. While in college, the outdoors became an escape from the stressors associated with attending one of the largest universities in the country. Nature provided a haven from the tasks that awaited my return to reality. After enduring a few semesters, I discovered a path that would allow me to spend time in nature and continue my education. I went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University.
After graduating, I spent a few years enjoying my own odyssey. I was fortunate to travel and work with upland game birds across many of the western states. Each day of work, as I walked through the massive expanses of prairie and sage steppe, I moved ever closer to where I am today. Still, I was only an enthusiast and had not yet become a bird hunter. Then, on a windy January afternoon in West Texas, I shot my first pointed bird. I can remember the English Setter’s flag fluttering in the wind and the buzzing of the covey as it took flight. That moment led to my indoctrination as an uplander.
Soon after, I purchased my first pointing dog, a 1.5-yr-old French Brittany named Cash. I had not yet realized the effect he would have on my life. From subtropical forests in southern Texas to subalpine mountain slopes in northern Utah, the two of us spent several years rambling around the uplands chasing new adventures. With every passing day afield, the outdoors has sunk its teeth deeper into my soul.
Since the days of hunting with my young Brittany, I have continued cultivating my passion for the outdoors through formal education and creative writing. I recently earned a Master of Science in Range and Wildlife Management at Sul Ross State University and am now pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Wildlife Management at Texas Tech University. I think that education leads to a deeper connection to wildlife conservation and nature.
In addition to my professional connection with the natural world, I have started a new journey into the world outdoor writing. Being able to articulate and share my experiences with others has further intensified my relationship with nature. It also gives me another reason to get outside and chase new adventure!
The underlying reason for my tie to nature is the release from the real world that it provides. I rely on it to maintain sanity and balance out day-to-day troubles. All those things seem to melt away when I lace up my boots and wander into the uplands.