Some of my most special fishing trips have been ones that I just grab some gear and leave for the river. I enjoy exploring, getting lost, and finding myself when I am fishing alone. Some may say I am naive because I don’t even consider that people don’t always have the best of intentions. Throughout the years I have been fishing when I would encounter another person on the river when I was alone there was never anything remotely strange that happened. Usually just a quick hello and sometimes I would here “where is your husband?” I had always thought of the river as my safe place even though there are many real dangers out there.
This past winter I had a very strange experience fishing in a remote area of the coast. I had left a group of friends and went upriver to find a place to just be with the river. The weather had not been especially cooperative and I just wanted to get away. After I caught my first fish at that spot I had this unnerving feeling that I was being watched. I had been listening to the road above me and had not heard any cars go by, so I continued fishing. By fish number three I was still not able to shake the feeling of being watched, so I packed up and started hiking back to my vehicle.
Halfway up the trail I turned around and saw a man on the other side of the rocks. He was staring at me as I was hiking out. I picked up the pace, got into my vehicle and wanted to vomit. My most sacred personal time had just been violated and I immediately knew I was unwilling to give up doing what I love. The only thing I could think of was to get my concealed handgun license as soon as humanly possible.
Having a CHL was something I had considered in the past but it was never a priority. Immediately it shot to the top of the list and I took the online course as soon as I got home that evening. My husband was incredibly supportive of my decision and even bought me a holster that will work with waders.
I felt obligated to have a discussion with my parents, who I am very close with, about the CHL and what happened at the river. My brother died of suicide when I was 17 and he used a gun. This was not a simple conversation to have with two of the people that love me the most. In the end they were as supportive as could be expected. My safety is a priority to them and they know how independent I am.
The whole process of obtaining my CHL took about a month. During that time I worked with my husband, who was a police officer, on gun safety and use of a holster. He and I went shooting together regularly from the time we started dating and I already owned firearms. The only thing that felt different about getting the CHL was the thought that I would ever use a firearm to protect myself.
Finally the day came for my appointment with the Sheriff’s Department and I was done going over all the what ifs in my head. It was time to feel safe again doing what I love.
I am not sure I will ever be happy about feeling like I have to carry a firearm with me when I fish. However I am absolutely comfortable with carrying a firearm to protect myself.