A mother has defended taking her children hunting, saying it teaches youngsters respect for animals – and keeps them off their mobile phones.
Alongside friend Amanda Thomas, 33, Heather Del Moral, 34, regularly takes her children Juan, known as Papi, 14, Isa, 12, and Armonia, nine, out to shoot deer, ducks and doves.
While the pair, who work together for Oklahoma’s wildlife department in the US, admit they understand hunting is a controversial topic, they insist it doesn’t do the kids any harm.
Heather and Juan, known as Papi, pose with a deer. She claims that taking her children hunting teaches them respect for animals – and keeps them off their mobile phones
Heather’s friend Amanda is pictured teaching Armonia to shoot. ‘Hunting gets children out there amongst nature, and teaches them respect for animals,’ said Heather
Heather, married to Juan, 35, who doesn’t hunt because he hasn’t picked up interest, said: ‘Some of my most memorable times with the kids are when we’re out hunting together. They don’t bring their phones, so we can properly talk, laugh and connect.
‘I’ve had people tell me they can’t believe I take my children hunting. I respect their opinion, but ask they respect mine too, and don’t knock something they haven’t tried.
‘Hunting gets children out there amongst nature, and teaches them respect for animals. They’re fascinated by the biology of it all too. They help clean the animals, and I show them the heart and talk them through all the different chambers.’
Amanda, who is single, added: ‘It also teaches patience, and that hard work pays off, because we don’t always catch anything.
‘We don’t ever pressure the children to do anything they don’t want to do. If they decide they’d rather not shoot a gun or something, we won’t make them. We don’t want them to be scared.’
Heather, with daughter Armonia hunting doves, explained that her interest piqued by hearing colleagues swap tales, she asked them if she could come along and see what it was all about – and was instantly hooked
The women believe that hunting teaches patience, and that hard work pays off, because they don’t always catch anything. Heather’s daughter Armonia is pictured after dove hunting with dog Jase
Amanda, with her dog Jase on a duck hunt, says hunting has always been a huge part of her life, having taken up the hobby alongside her dad
Heather and Amanda, pictured out hunting, say that when the children do come out on a hunt, safety is absolutely paramount
Amanda explained that they don’t take more than a couple of children out at one time, so they can keep a proper eye on everyone
For Amanda, hunting has always been a huge part of her life, having taken up the hobby alongside her dad Gary Thomas, 57, as a youngster when she was around two or three years old.
In her teens, she lost interest slightly, preferring to focus instead on ‘boyfriends and basketball.’
But then, after making her first kill – a buck – when she was 17, she said she ‘fell back in love with it.’
Now, she has also taken up dove, turkey and duck hunting, and even gotten two dogs, Labrador Jase and English Pointer Dax, which she spent months training to help her.
‘When it’s deer, duck and quail season all at the same time, it’s a hard choice,’ she explained, adding that, once she kills duck using a shotgun, she cleans the carcasses and uses their meat to whip up a batch of family recipe jerky.
‘I don’t always catch things. I can go a whole day without getting anything at all, but if there’s something out there, I’m out there too.’
Amanda, right, went out hunting with father Gary Thomas, 57, as a youngster when she was around two or three years old
Amanda, pictured out paddlefishing, brought her children along with her, starting with Papi when he was eight years old, and now, the family trek out into the wilderness together most weekends
Amanda poses with kill and uploads photos to social media says she has faced criticism
Heather, on the other hand, didn’t get into hunting until around three years ago.
Her interest piqued by hearing colleagues swap tales, she asked them if she could come along and see what it was all about – and was instantly hooked.
In time, she brought her children along with her, starting with Papi when he was eight years old, and now, the family trek out into the wilderness together most weekends.
‘The kids also play lots of sports, so we go as much as our schedules allow. My husband Juan doesn’t really get it. He’d rather be home watching sports,’ said Heather.
‘The children love it though. They haven’t shot doves yet, they prefer to run out and catch them, but they’ve caught loads of turkeys, deer and fish.
‘When we do kill something, we don’t just leave it there. We’ll clean it and take it for meat so it isn’t wasted.’
Heather with son Juan (Papi) with a deer. The women told of how they’ve faced criticism not only for the fact that they hunt, but that they’re female hunters too
Heather and Amanda out hunting love to go most weekends
The women say that when they do kill something, they don’t just leave it there. They’ll clean it and take it for meat so it isn’t wasted
Amanda added that, when the children do come out on a hunt, safety is absolutely paramount.
She explained that they don’t take more than a couple of children out at one time, so they can keep a proper eye on everyone.
The youngsters must also have gun safety qualifications before they can join in.
‘We beat it into their brain to always be aware of their surroundings – safety, safety, safety,’ she said.
Heather added: ‘It’s not a video game. These are real-life guns.’
Amanda and Heather, who post with their kill and upload photos to social media, also told of how they’ve faced criticism not only for the fact that they hunt, but that they’re female hunters too.
The women said: ‘We beat it into the children’s brain to always be aware of their surroundings – safety, safety, safety’
Heather, pictured with Isa on their way to a hunt, told of how hunting is typically ‘a man’s world,’ adding that the pair are not always taken seriously
Heather, with Armonia and Isa pictured out fishing, believes that hunting keeps kids off their mobile phones
Heather, pictured paddlefishing, added: ‘Even if we don’t harvest, hunting is always an adventure’
Heather told of how hunting is typically ‘a man’s world,’ adding that the pair are not always taken seriously.
However, despite criticism, they remain proud of what they do.
Amanda said: ‘It’s not for everyone, but people should at least give it a try before they judge. You either love it, or you hate it.
‘We’ve started to document all our hunting stories, and we’re encouraging the kids to do the same so they have something to look back on.
‘Even if we don’t harvest, hunting is always an adventure.’
Gun control is ‘compromising our freedoms’: What the White House told allies to say in the wake of Las Vegas massacre
The messaging guide, obtained by NBC News, offers a glimpse into how the Trump administration aims to quell new demands for strict gun control laws in the wake of the massacre.
‘[W] e welcome this debate,’ one talking point reads, ‘but in the wake of Sunday night’s tragedy, we shouldn’t rush toward compromising our freedoms before we have all the facts.’
Democrats in Congress have already demanded the creation of a special legislative committee to address gun violence, and asked for a law banning the sale ogf gun suppressors, also known as ‘silencers.’
Trump told reporters this week that ‘we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by’
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees ‘the right to bear arms’ – a broad mandate that courts ave interpreted as a nearly unfettered license to own firearms.
The White House’s communications team crafted a set of arguments sending a message that the president won’t budge on Democrats’ attempts to roll those rights back.
‘The President believes that our founding principles, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to bear arms must be protected while maintaining public safety,’ they read.
‘And when it comes to gun control, let’s be clear: new laws won’t stop a mad man committed to harming innocent people. They will curtail the
freedoms of law abiding citizens.’
Trump sent a slightly more nuanced signal on Tuesday morning, telling reporters that ‘we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.’
The president offered an uncompromising, iron-clad defense of the Second Amendment when he campaigned for the White House.
Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist in the West Wing, told the Axios news website on Tuesday that the idea of Trump embracing gun control is ‘impossible’ to think, and would ‘be the end of everything’ – eroding his political base past the point of repair.
The White House intended to muddy the waters in the wake of the Las Vegas murders, drawing comparisons with terrorists who have committed attacks ‘with knives, by people driving cars into crowds, and hijacking airplanes.’
‘And some of America’s cities with the strictest gun laws hsave the highest rates of gun violence,’ the talking points continued.
‘Examples include: Chicago last year had over 4,300 shooting victims. Baltimore last year had over 900 shooting victims.’
‘This shows that more laws on the books may not work,’ the White House added.
‘The problems in these cities and many others isn’t too few gun laws.’
President Trump will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.