Introduce your family to small game hunting
The history of the Laplante family
"It was like time travel… back to the past, but also into the future!" notes Éric Laplante right off the bat when asked about his small game hunting weekend. With a smile on his face, this devoted dad is really eager to tell us about his experience.
Behind this recent trip to the wilderness is Eric's personal story. "I was just a little squirt when I went small game hunting with my father for the first time. I remember it like it was yesterday! When he saw me with the first game animal that I ever harvested, the look in his eyes... it was worth its weight in gold! The emotions you experience while hunting are so powerful," Eric recalls.
Part of him wanted to relive those youthful emotions. And what about the part that motivated him the most to organize these few days of hunting at Réserve faunique de Portneuf? Answer: his desire to have his spouse and their two teenage daughters, apprentice hunters, feel the same rush as he did as a kid.
"It was primarily to pass on my passion," he says. Following in his father's footsteps, Eric wanted to be with his daughters on their first hunting experience. "If they didn't like it, that would have been fine, and I would have been very comfortable with their verdict. It was definitely a possibility," he says.
A weekend of reflection
In Eric's eyes, hunting is a parallel world offering a wealth of learning. "Through hunting, I’ve learned a lot about resourcefulness, nature, respect, and the importance of doing things right," he says. For him, the hunting experience is a matter of attaining inner peace.
Aware that hunting is an activity that generates a lot of debate and ambivalent feelings, Eric still wanted his daughters to give it a try.
Many criticize the practice, and the Laplante family made no bones about it during their weekend in the wild. "For us, dialogue is important. There were no questions I wanted to avoid," says Eric. He wanted his children to witness the whole process: "We eat woodland meat every year. Yes, a partridge is cute, but... beyond that, it's a prey, a dinner on the table, a chicken-like creature of known origins."
Sharing above all
Papa Eric chose to start with small game not only out of family tradition, but also because he knew it would make the experience more inviting. "It's a congenial type of hunting: you walk, you talk, and there's no protracted silence or long wait," he describes.
Because you can't predict the emotions experienced the first time around, Eric wanted to go at it gradually. "It allowed us to stay by the girls’ side as events unfolded," he says. He wished to give them the space to go through the different stages at their own pace: "I wanted them to experience the hunt on their own. Each person has a different experience of the emotional roller coaster that comes with tracking and shooting.”
His passion is contagious, and you can sense that hunting is a thought-provoking activity for him. "In the end, it’s the experience of life and death, the great circle of existence!” he says excitedly.
When all is said and done, however, it's the precious family time that’s most important to Eric. "I had been dreaming about this weekend for a long time," he confides. “The girls didn't hide the fact that they were there mostly for me," he adds with a chuckle. “But I didn't have to insist that they come. They're always willing to try new things.”
Hearing him talk about hunting year after year probably made them want to be part of the experience. For the family, it was a time of discovery. "I was really happy to see the surprise in their faces when they tried out the guns, to see their concentration when we walked the trails," he recalls, "and my better half had never seen a partridge, so she got fully on board too!"
An adventure to be repeated
Clearly, the experience lived up to expectations. "I didn't know how they would react when they saw their very first small game. When I saw a little flame in their eyes as we stood in front of our first grouse, it made me so happy," says Eric.
Satisfied with their adventure, the family plans to return for more: "My daughters have already asked me to repeat the small game experience next year. It's a good start!" He admits he wants to continue this exploration as a family, albeit gently. "They were involved in the whole process, from planning the trip to preparing the meat. I'm super proud of them," he says emotionally, "but I won't be dragging them by force to hunt moose or deer next year!"
He looks forward philosophically to the next phase, hoping above all that his two teenage daughters discover a hunting pathway all their own . "With my perspective as a dad, I understand now that it wasn't the game I was holding that made my dad so proud when I was a boy. It was seeing my enthusiasm and realizing that the family hunting legacy would live on with me," says Eric, absorbed in his thoughts.
The next step for the Laplante brood? Continue the family tradition of small game hunting and, most importantly, create their own traditions. "I want to enjoy this process with my family to the fullest," says the proud father.