Joe Tardif: It’s about the hunt, not what you hunted


Credit: Max Brande

Junior Joe Tardif enjoys nothing more than being alone in nature. “For me, just being in the woods, being in nature, the only thing I can hear is the trees swaying and the birds chirping,” Tardif said. Just being in nature being away from society, and away from everybody else and just being placid and simply by yourself without having to worry about anything.”

Max Brande

Over the span of a human’s life, different interests come upon them. Some come and go, others stick with you. For junior Joe Tardif, the drive and passion of hunting is something that has stuck with him since a young age. This is to the point where Tardif hopes to be hunting for the rest of his life

“I had always been interested in the outdoors for as long as I can remember,” Tardif said. “[It had first] crossed my mind: hunting and harvesting of animals probably when I was around six or seven. I’d always wanted to try hunting.”

There is something about nature that resonates with Tardif unlike anyone, and that is how he got into hunting.

“I always had a great appreciation for the animals. And as I learned more and more about the outdoors and animals, hunting kind of came into that more,” Tardif said.

Hunting is not something that can be taught in school. It is something that is either learned from an expert, or in Tardif’s case, self-discovered.

Credit: Max Brande
In Tardif’s backyard, he’s built a stand for him to hunt in the woods. “Just being in nature, being away from society and away from everybody else and just being placid and simply by yourself without having to worry about anything,” Tardif said.

“There’s woods behind my house and I was back there and it’s just something that I saw,” Tardif said. ”It was new, it was inexperienced in my life, and I just pursued it.”

Like most things in life, connections are needed to get yourself into the desired industry of choice. Tardif is lucky enough to have a close family friend to get his feet wet with hunting.

“A very good family friend of mine named Kurt Upham is a local hunter,” Tardif said. “He’s been hunting all of his life in Weston, where he grew up. He now lives in Wayland, but he took me on the Massachusetts youth hunt in 2017. He’s been unbelievably supportive and helpful in giving me everything I need, introducing me to everything and teaching me 99.9% of everything I know about hunting to this day.”

Something that Tardif heavily values is the ability to reach out to the community and get his views out to other people. Tardif established the WHS Outdoorsman club earlier this fall.

“Once I got a better understanding of the hunting community in these past couple of years, I noticed how no one in the school, and none of my close friends have ever experienced anything like that,” Tardif said. “For me, making this club was a way of giving back to the hunting and outdoorsman community to bring new and young people into it to grow the population.”

The traditions of hunting that Tardif has inherited from Upham is something that he will carry with him forever. Tardif also holds the intention of passing them on to the following generations.

“I have learned a new lifestyle [from] hunting, and I know that I’m going to pursue that for the rest of my life,” Tardif said. “Hopefully, I can pass it on to more kids, more of my friends [and] more [of] my family.”

Although gun reform has been a source of discussion across the nation, Tardif doesn’t express concern for the hunting community, as he favors bow hunting.

“Personally, I enjoy bow hunting more than hunting with guns. I wouldn’t say that’s because I don’t like guns; I just find bow hunting a lot more interesting and more fun,” Tardif said.

One of the largest gray areas in the whole gun reform debates is where the line is drawn between intent to kill and for hunting purposes. Tardif is concerned that gun reforms are starting to get in the way of the hunter’s ability to hunt, and he wants to make sure that the line is drawn very clearly between an intent to kill, and hunting.

“Guns, yes, are related to hunting, but hunting rifles are not a part of massacres and school shootings, yet they’re still tied to the category of guns and then that is related to the hunters,” Tardif said. “I think the gun debate and all the gun arguments are decreasing the numbers [of] hunters; just because of social views, people are looking down on hunters about it.”

Tardif views hunting as an art, and the believes what you see in nature should never be taken for granted.

“Once you get into your stand, nobody knows you are there,” Tardif said. “To see nature play out by itself, as if you were not there, is something that nobody I know would ever experience if they had not been sitting in the tree stand hunting. And I think it’s something that very few people ever see.”

Not everyone can experience the wonders of nature. When it happens, it is something to take advantage of.

“To have birds land on your shoulder to think you’re a tree, to have chipmunks and squirrels crawling on the branch above you is unbelievable. [This experience] simply would not be accomplished if I hadn’t gone up before sunrise and sat in the tree stand early in the morning to go out hunting.”

Hunting is similar to fishing, with a huge emphasis on patience. In hunting, when nature strikes before your very eyes, it can be exhilarating.

“When you sit in a tree stand and you see a deer walking past you, or even a bunny or a squirrel or an owl, your heart is pounding out of your chest; it is unbelievable,” Tardif said. “I’m in awe, most of the time. It’s hard to pull my bow back, it’s hard to stand up to get ready. It’s jaw dropping to be able to actually see [nature] play out.”

At the end of the day, when you set out into the woods before sunrise, your intention [is] to come back at sunset with an animal. This often doesn’t happen, but when it does, treasure the moment.

“Last year, on November 1, I shot my first whitetail deer with my bow at 32 yards,” Tardif said. “I believe that is probably by far my biggest accomplishment in sorts of harvesting an animal.”

Often times, in sports, the accomplishment of an athlete is measured on championships or points. To Tardif, the accomplishment of a hunter is anything but that.

Credit: Max Brande
“My house backs a big conservation land where there’s a bunch of deer. So I’ve seen, I’d say probably just above the average amount of deer somebody would see,” Tardif said. When you sit in a tree stand, and you see a bunny or a squirrel or an owl, your heart is pounding out of your chest, it is unbelievable. I’m in awe, most of the time. It’s hard to pull my bow back, it’s hard to stand up to get ready. It’s just, it’s jaw dropping to be able to actually see it play out. It’s awesome.”

“To me, being an accomplished hunter does not mean that you’ve killed the most deer, [and] it does not mean you have hunted or trapped the most animals; it just means that you’re truly happy in what you’re doing in the woods,” Tardif said. “That’s by far my biggest accomplishment: just being able to appreciate nature and understand the animals.”

Effort inevitably goes into the things that are loved and cared for the most. Whether it’s friends, family or passion, the things loved the most will get the most attention.

“I could have the same job as a nature photographer,” Tardif said. “You want to completely unmask yourself into nature, you know you have your camouflage on so nothing will see you. You just want to accomplish invisibility and make yourself one within the woods. And that’s what I try and accomplish. I just try and, you know, sit there in silence for as long as I can and spend five hours just sitting there. It’s awesome.”