- Slow Down, Release by Taylor Cassat
Slow Down, Release by Taylor Cassat
By: Taylor Cassat
I’ll start by saying if you’ve read my previous stories, you’d know my background and you know why this next story is important. If you haven’t, I highly encourage you to go check them out. This is why and how hunting saved my own life, and where the deep-rooted passion for hunting really started for me.
Diving a little deeper into my personal life, my world changed a little in 2019. My best friend lost his battle with his own mental health and took his own life. I was sitting in Afghanistan, two weeks from the end of deployment. I was beyond excited to get home and started to plan updates to my home and vacations with my friends. My best friend in the world had started to show the signs of major depression and had lost his normal demeanor. I kept telling him and myself that if I can just get home, we’re going to take care of it. It’s all going to be fine, life will be fun, and we’re going to find something to enjoy. On March 3rd, I was working most of the day (Afghanistan is +8.5 hours from Central Time) and received a text during working hours – so it took me about 40 minutes to see it.
It read like this: “Hey man the dogs are fed and stuff make sure your roommate takes care of Them.”
This text was out of the ordinary, and at approximately 2:45AM Eastern Time. The next text was an address not far from my house where I ultimately learned that he had taken his life. I say all of this to voice a few things, a couple of which took me a long time to learn:
- If your friends don’t seem okay, they’re probably not. Find out what they need – immediately.
- If someone near and dear to you loses their battle with mental health, this is not your fault. At all. Find peace within your pain from that.
- A mourning period is normal, but find a passion, or a hobby, and stick with it.
I struggled with each of these things sequentially. The third was fixed when I found my passion again hunting ducks, and was able to apply my love for intelligence analysis and targeting to it with great success.
Because I grew up hunting ducks, it started easy. This led me to the realization that I need an offseason hobby. Without being outdoors and having time to reflect on my own internal thoughts, those depressive tendencies come back and I begin to understand what my friend went through prior to losing his battle. So hunting, and spending time outdoors saves me. My offseason hobby to help was decidedly going to be bowhunting.
I had watched my friends enjoy bowhunting and just couldn’t ever understand why someone would want it. Sitting still, not hanging out with your buddies, and trying to make yourself smell like piss all the time just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Boy was I mistaken (except about the piss, still not a huge fan of that). I spent hours with my PSE bow that I bought off my uncle for 100 dollars this year. I’d shoot 60 to 80 arrows per day at distances between 20 and 50 yards. When a deer walked out underneath my stand, I thought I’d be shakier than a kid in a candy store. Much to my surprise and comfort, I was still, silent, and feeling deadly. I drilled a 135 pound doe at 35 yards and dropped her within another 15. As soon as I let that arrow loose, I knew it had hit true to its mark. Practice sure does make perfect.
This season has hooked me, and while I’ll always be partial to a waterfowl hunt, I can almost be lured away for a solid bowhunting endeavor. Here’s to next season, and every season after until God comes to collect me himself – because that’s the only way I’ll ever go out.
About the Author
Taylor enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17 years old. After qualifying as an operational intelligence analyst, he worked with the National Security Agency and USCYBERCOM as a cyber intelligence analyst in support of defensive cyber operations, ultimately becoming one of the first fully qualified in his job and a pioneer within the DoD “threat hunting” realm. After finishing his tour as a cyber intelligence analyst, he cross-trained into special operations intelligence in support of counter-terrorism operations. Taylor has developed numerous targeting strategies and collection capabilities supporting various interagency parties and has combat deployments with East Coast Navy SEAL Teams in various locations worldwide. Feeling compelled to give back to the communities that set him up for success, Taylor volunteers with Hire Heroes USA to mentor veterans through their transition process into the private or public sectors as civilians. Born in Florida, raised in northwest Arkansas, and after almost 10 years in the Navy, Taylor moved back to Arkansas with his dog, Beaux in 2021.