2013 Creative Writing Competition Winners

The students listed below are the 2013 winners. Click each name to jump to that student.

High school boy: Trey Kalka
High school girl: Paige Dearrington
Junior high boy: Hunter Thomsen
Junior high girl:  Allison Walker


High School Boy
Student Name: Trey Kalka
School: Chandler High School
Grade: 12
Age: 17

Hunting: Sharing the Heritage

     Hunting may be viewed to some as cruel to animals, or maybe a hobby, but to me it is a way of life. All my family hunts and it has been taught and passed down from generation to generation from learning about the woods and animal behavior to passing down the guns and gear as well. Although deer hunting has to be my passion, any season or any critter — I’ll be out there.

      Obviously my main goal is to shoot a monster buck or limit out on waterfowl, but hunting means a lot more than that. It is a way to clear my mind, relax and spend quality time with family and friends, and to share and pass on the heritage and tradition of hunting.

     My first experience of hunting was with my dad, opening day of deer gun season. I couldn’t wait, because we had been scouting for weeks to find a spot with deer activity and their bedding and feeding areas. I was so anxious and excited for opening day to come. Of course all I was thinking about was deer, but I didn’t realize how much knowledge I gained and laughs I shared with my dad. Those are memories I will never forget, and of course the fact that I shot my first deer that first morning.

     The excitement and adrenaline I got was surreal. My heart skipped a beat just seeing it, and I couldn’t believe that I hit it I was shaking so badly. But then the release and exhale, and I had such a feeling of relief and satisfaction when I saw that deer drop. I was hooked for life right at the moment. Although it brings many bonding opportunities and fellowship, I also enjoy going out by myself. It’s an escape from my busy life. It lets me clear my mind and think about decisions while I’m enjoying God’s creation and everything in it. Anytime I get to go out and hunt is a success to me. Unfortunately a year ago I lost my mom to brain cancer after she battled it for two years. Going hunting with my dad gave me something to look forward to, aim for, and brought me peace. The woods were like my oasis in the dessert of my stress and sadness.

      This tradition that has been instilled in me isn’t precious to just me, but many others. Even though it has grown in popularity in recent years with television shows and the internet, it is something that needs to be passed on continually and individuals need to be more safe and knowledgeable. A lot of society thinks it’s cruel or hunters are disliked in some parts cause of irresponsible and uneducated hunters.

      Hunting is something I will do the rest of my life and I will pass it down to my son and children. Also, I always encourage my friends and others I come in contact with to go with me, and I show them how to hunt and give them the opportunity I have had. There are some phenomenal programs like Boys and Girls Club and other great organizations that give kids opportunities to be involved in sports and activities with a mentor. However, I believe there should be more specialized mentoring programs to give youth the opportunity to learn and go hunt that might not have the land or parents to teach them.

      Hunting means so much to me, and is something I will always cherish and be thankful for that I have the opportunity to do it every day. I strive to ensure that it will stay that way and future generations will also have this opportunity. So grab a gun or bow and a buddy and get out there in the woods and hunt!

High School Girl
Student Name: Paige Dearrington
School: Charles Page High School
Grade: 10
Age: 16

Hunting: Sharing the Heritage

     Five years ago, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a shotgun and a rifle. When I met my stepfather, Lance, He taught me everything he knew. Now-a-days, we sit around the campfire at deer camp and listen to all the great stories that are told by other hunters. Deer camp is my favorite place in the world besides my stand and the livestock show-ring. I learn from their experiences and my own.

      My first hunt: It was just a regular day in the 6th grade, when I got a call from my mom saying, “We’re goin’ shoppin’!” I had no idea we were just going to Bass Pro Shop to get me a pair of camouflage pants, a shirt and snake boots. When I asked why I needed those things, she just said that I was going hunting the next evening. When I met Lance, he asked me what I thought about hunting; I told him I didn’t know anything about it. When he explained what was going to happen and asked if I wanted to go, I said, “Sure, sounds fun!”

     I’ve never been so nervous as I stepped out of our truck. In just about an hour before the trip, he taught me how to shoot a 20 gauge. When we sat down, he went to the other side of the tree and started calling. At that time I thought it was the most awful noise I had ever heard, but within 10 minutes, we heard a gobble. This little jake got closer and closer and my heart beat faster and faster. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest and then I heard Lance say, “Shoot ‘em, kid!” I shot. I looked up, and there he was—my first turkey. All thanks to my father, Lance.

      Ever since that day, all I think about is how much that day means to me. I think about how if I hadn’t been willing to go that evening, I wouldn’t have experienced so many lifealtering experiences that I have. Starting with my father and I taking our first trip to our lease, and on my first evening in the stand harvesting a nice eight point. Going back to deer camp and realizing I put a smile on my mentors’ faces bigger than my own. Sitting in the blind with the dog waiting on the ducks to light. Walking through Kansas farmland trying to bust up some pheasants. Me and my father going to Colorado on an unsuccessful elk hunt two years in a row, then harvesting a mule deer doe at eighteen yards with my Mathews Passion.

      Nothing my father or I harvest goes to waste. We enjoy what we do and doing it with each other. Hunting means the world to me and my family and I hope to teach my children everything my father has taught me. I have learned to value the importance of wildlife management and conservation. All of those experiences in the woods and the fields have made me the person I am today, and the only thing that will change is the expansion of my knowledge about the art of hunting.


Jr. High Boy
Student Name: Hunter Thomsen
School: Chandler Jr. High
Grade: 8
Age: 13

My First Deer

      I woke up with a chill through my body. As I looked out the window, I saw a white blanket covering the earth below my window. As I got dressed, I heard my dad call, “ready to go son.” I hurried my pace so to not be late. I got all my hunting gear together, and down the stairs I went.

     As we hopped in the truck, my dog Bo whined until I let him in the truck. His favorite part about hunting is the car ride to the deer blind. As we reached our destination, we saw five does jump across the road. “Maybe this will be your lucky day, my dad told me.” I hope it is! It had been two years since I had started hunting and I hadn’t seen a deer in that time.

      We had sat there for three hours and never saw a thing, so we decided to go home for the day and try again tomorrow morning. All that season we never saw a deer even cross the road, but I never lost hope. I wanted to prove to my siblings that I too could get one just like them.

      The next season we went hunting again and we saw a few deer, but none close enough to shoot. “Your time will come, just give it a few more days,” my dad would tell me, but it never happened. There was this one time when a doe came right by my blind. I took an arrow out of the quiver, trying to be silent as a mouse. When I got the bow to full draw, my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. The deer finally turned broadside and I aimed with all my heart. When I released, the arrow went straight under the doe, missing her by maybe four inches. My dad said I would get her next time, but I wasn’t real sure about that because I just blew a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

      At school, they were starting an archery program and at first I was hesitant about joining, but my dad said I should so I did. At the first meeting, we went over hunter safety and hunter education. When we got to shoot, I wasn’t very good at it, but over time I got really good. In fact, I even got to go to regionals, state and nationals. I had so much fun that I now have been in the archery program for five years and loving every moment of it.

      When I got to hunt later that year, there was certain happiness in the air that made me feel really good inside. While I was sitting in the blind, I noticed all of the birds stopped singing and it seemed as if time stopped. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge deer. It looked to be about a 10 point and I knew my chance to finally get a deer had come to me. I knocked the arrow and held down a cough, for I knew if I let it go, it would spook the deer. I drew the arrow and held my breath. I was shaking because I was so excited. When I released the arrow, I first thought I missed but when the deer turned broadside, I could see the arrow had punctured a lung. My dad laughed and said to me, “you got your first deer.”

      If it wasn’t for the Archery in the Schools Program, I might not have ever got that deer. The program means so much to me and I encourage everyone to join because anyone can shoot if they have the right attitude and determination. It has kept a lot of kids out of trouble and got a lot of kids interested in a certain hobby. I hope the archery program is around for future generations to come.


Jr. High Girl
Student Name:Allison Walker
School: Owasso 8th Grade Center
Grade: 8th
Age: 14

Family Tradition

      The sun was slowly starting to vanish out of sight as my uncle and I left the campground. On previous hunting trips, we had never seen any deer. We were sure this would be the evening we would have our chance. Once we were settled in our blind, silence fell among us. The only sound was the wind whistling through the trees. We sat there in our blind for what seemed like years, just looking through the trees, until finally we could hear the crunching of leaves. I sat up, my adrenaline pumping, and there they came — two beautiful does running straight by us. They were so agile! We weren’t able to get a clear shot, so we just watched them disappear into the depths of the trees. That was the first time I had gone hunting and spotted a deer.

     Hunting has always been my favorite family tradition. My dad has been taking my brother and me to deer camp since we were big enough to jump in the truck. Although my dad doesn’t hunt, my uncles are both avid hunters. I’ve listened to legendary stories of hunts as we sit around the campfire. It’s these stories, and the closeness this brings to my family, that make me want to hunt even more. I look forward to that one weekend per year that I get to go to deer camp and enjoy time with my family in the wilderness. I anticipate the day I harvest my first deer and the excitement I will have as I tell my story around the campfire.

     I think hunting teaches us about the importance of preserving the land. The beautiful sunrises are like nothing I’ve ever seen before as I listen to the wildlife and the birds in the woods as they start to come to life around me. I want to ensure that someday my children will have the opportunity to enjoy and create the same kind of memories as being in the woods on that brisk November morning has brought me.

     Hunting helps maintain the population of animals and it also supplies food for many families. If you think hunters are throwing away money on tags and licenses, you’re wrong! Hunters are the largest contributors to conservation. The fees hunters pay for tags and licensing go to state agencies to support wildlife management programs. There are also programs such as the Wild Turkey Federation and Quail Forever that help support local wildlife efforts.

     I think it is important that schools continue to have classes, much like my Outdoor Recreation class, so that kids who are not as lucky as me still have the opportunity to become more involved in the conservation and preservation of our land. This may be the only introduction they have to the heritage of hunting. As adults, with their own families, they can someday create traditions much like the one I have with my family.