Oklahoma mom Heather Del Moral is defending her choice to teach her children how to hunt.
The 34-year-old mother of three has been taking her children, Juan, 14, Isa, 12, and Armonia, 9, out to shoot deer, ducks and doves to teach them respect for animals.
“Hunting gets children out there amongst nature, and teaches them respect for animals. They’re fascinated by the biology of it all too,” Del Moral tells Mirror.
"They help clean the animals, and I show them the heart and talk them through all the different chambers,” she added.
Del Moral, who works for Oklahoma’s Wildlife Department, feels the time she spends hunting with her kids is way for them to grow closer as a family.
“Some of my most memorable times with the kids are when we’re out hunting together,” she told the publication. "They don’t bring their phones, so we can properly talk, laugh and connect.”
Del Moral has been hunting for the last three years – getting into it after listening to coworkers talk about hunting excursions. After she started, she introduced her kids and now they try to head out into the wilderness together most weekends. However, she notes sometimes schedules get hectic.
When they do get out to hunt, though, Del Moral properly explains how to stay safe and reminds them “it’s not a video game. These are real-life guns.”
Del Moral’s hunting buddy and coworker, Amanda Thomas, seconds that.
“We beat it into their brain to always be aware of their surroundings – safety, safety, safety,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who believes hunting “teaches patience, and that hard work pays off," said that hunting is up to the kids.
“We don’t ever pressure the children to do anything they don’t want to do,” Thomas said. “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.”
That isn't a problem for Del Moral, though, because she says her kids are hooked, even if her husband, Juan, never got into the sport.
“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,” she said. “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.”
But for Thomas and Del Moral, who posts pics of her family’s kills on social media, the backlash they get for letting kids hunt is frustrating.
“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,” Del Moral says.