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Bohanon makes hunting a family adventure

4/28/2005

You would think that with six kids and a professional baseball career to attend to, Brian Bohanon wouldn't have much time to get out and hunt.

Wrong.

In the offseason, he hunts from five to seven days a week — all with his wife's blessing.

But Bohanon's not a selfish hunter. He takes the family with him on occasion.

In fact, his fondest hunting memory doesn't include a time when he was behind the scope. It was scoping out his spouse, Tina, as she took down an 8-point deer on her very first hunting trip, the first time she ever handled a rifle.

"She'd never even target practiced with a rifle," Bohanon explained. "She'd fired shotguns before, but never squeezed a rifle trigger."

Bohanon, 33, a pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds after being acquired in the offseason from the Colorado Rockies, has spent nearly 30 years living in Houston, half that time married to Tina. Together they are raising six children.

Hunting is never far from his mind.

ESPN Outdoors interviewed Bohanon last season when he offered to be a part of our "Athletes in the Outdoors" Q&A series. Read on:


ESPN Outdoors: "What is your specialty?"

Brian Bohanon: "Anywhere from deer hunting to duck and goose. Whitetail, snow goose and all the ducks we got down in the Houston area."

EO: "Are your kids into hunting?"

BB: "It's something that they are very active in right now. My oldest (Brian) shot his first whitetail last year. It was awesome. I wasn't there, I was on another hunt. My brother-in-law took him out. He told me that my son's reactions were awesome. He put the deer in the sight, waited a second and when he pulled the trigger he said he went complete nuts. It was like, 'Yessssss.' It's a good thing that they are able to get out and do these kinds of things."

EO: "What was your most memorable day?"

BB: "Probably my most memorable day was watching my wife hunt for the first time. She didn't have a problem pulling the trigger, but she still doesn't like to touch the animals."

EO: "Was it a hard sell to her?"

BB: "She was interested, because she knew I've done it my whole life. Since probably 12 years old I've been hunting, always in Texas.

"I took her out into the hill country going on three years ago now and had this buck come up about 105 yards away. And it was a miserable day. I was surprised she was even out there. It was like 20 degrees and sleeting sideways and we got this nice buck to come out, an 8-pointer, and she ended up taking it with the first shot. It was a .243 Remington. It was the first time.

"She'd never even target practiced with a rifle. She'd fired shotguns before but never squeezed a rifle trigger."

EO: "How did you assist her?"

BB: "I was just telling her about shot placement, where to put the crosshairs. I knew the gun was sighted in and it was going to shoot right there. I was just whispering in her ear, 'Just find the shoulder and just go about 2 inches behind it, and, once you get to that point, whenever you're not moving, pull the trigger.'

EO: "What was her reaction?"

BB: "She screamed, 'Ahhhh.'

"She knew she nailed it because it dropped straight down and it wasn't even moving. I was watching through binoculars and, as soon as she pulled the trigger, I watched the deer drop straight down and it was like, 'Yeah, she did it.'

"I've seen lots of times where a husband will take his wife and the wife will have (the deer) there and she just can't find it (through the scope) to pull the trigger. And I was worried I would have the same problem. But she has shot a few deer since then.

"I didn't really force her into it. She made the decision on her own to go and do it. And when she said she wanted to go, I said, 'Let's go.' I didn't coax her into it."

EO: "How often do you hunt in the offseason?"

BB: "I hunt pretty much five days a week, sometimes more, sometimes I'll get in seven. At least duck hunting. It's just about getting out in the field. Nature's awesome. Watching the birds work. Making them work. Coming into the decoy spreads. That's awesome."

EO: "Does hunting fill a gap?"

BB: "For me, I grew up with it since I was 12. My dad turned me onto it. It's one of those things that have just become a part of me. I'd always deer hunted, but I didn't start duck hunting until five years ago."

EO: "What is the challenge of deer hunting?"

BB: "People think it's just so easy to go out and shoot a deer. Just put your gun up. And it doesn't work that way. There are so many variables. You've got the wind. They're smart deer. If you're not extremely quiet and evasive, they are going to smell you out. That's the way that creature is."

EO: "As a pitcher, you've given up a home run on a pitch you know you shouldn't have thrown. Is there a decision in hunting you wish you would have had back?"

BB: "There's been probably a couple of times where I missed a couple of deer, one especially that I really would have loved to have had. I was up about 20 foot in a treestand and a nice buck came underneath my treestand. And I didn't get a shot until it was on its way out and ended up shooting twice at it and missed it both times and couldn't figure out why I'd missed.

"My sight was about eight inches off. I don't know how it got that way, but it ended up that way. It was just one of those that I would have loved to have had back."

EO: "This might be a stretch, but do you see any similarities between pitching and hunting?"

BB: "I think there are a lot of similarities between pitching and hunting, as far as patience. As a pitcher, when you go after a hitter, you don't try to get him on the first pitch. Sometimes it takes three or four pitches before you can get this guy out. And it's the same way in hunting.

"You're not going to go out there and sit 10 minutes in a stand and expect to shoot a deer. You're going to have to wait it out and wait and wait. If it's your day, let it be. But if not, you'll go back and get him the next day. It teaches you a lot of patience."

EO: "Are you a stickler for taking care of your gear, both in the field and on the diamond?"

BB: "Actually I think I take better care of my hunting stuff than my baseball stuff. I make sure everything is there, because the last thing I want to do when I go on a hunting trip is forget something. I'm always double- and triple-checking that everything's there.

"In baseball, I take it for granted that everything's there. It doesn't hurt to have other people looking out for you on the baseball field."

EO: "How would you characterize yourself as a ballplayer and a hunter?"

BB: "I would say I'm resilient and I'm a guy who is not going to give up, no matter what. I'm going to go out and give it every best effort.

"In the field, first of all, you make sure of all the safety issues. That's the first and foremost thought in my mind when I'm out there. I have to know where everyone is. As far as tracking, I do a little still-hunting. I'll walk for 20, 30 yards and sit and I'll cover half a mile or so."

EO: "How does your wife let you get out of the house five or six or seven days a week?"

BB: "That one's tough."

EO: "It can't be that tough."

BB: "She let's me go in the mornings and I tell her I'm going to be back at a decent time. She homeschools the kids. It makes it a lot easier. About the time they're done, I get back home."

EO: "Your wife must be patient."

BB: "She's got a teacher's background."

EO: "What is your dream hunt?"

BB: "Up in Alaska. I've never shot a black bear. That's what I want. It would be after baseball, but I plan on it one day."

EO: "How long you going to be in baseball."

BB: "That's a tough question. I won't be like Mike Morgan, but it won't be in the next two years, either."

For more "Athletes in the Outdoors," click here.