Catherine and Cory Kruse love the outdoors and are raising their 7-year-old daughter Claire as a free-range kid.
“We want her to fall in love with the outdoors the way she wants to fall in love with it, so we give her free rein to experience anything she is interested in,” said Catherine.
The family lives in the Texas Hill Country, and thanks to her parents, Claire is enjoying an idyllic childhood.
“We love when she sits still long enough to see the sun rise and bugs move around, and hear the birds wake up,” said Catherine. “She’s just kind of grown into that role, and any time she asks to get involved in something new, we steward that [interest].”
As a result, Claire has experienced all manner of outdoor adventures, including learning how to shoot a shotgun. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows the Kruses. Cory Kruse is a World and National Sporting Clays Champion who has shot competitively since he was a teen. In fact, later this month, he will be inducted into the National Sporting Clays Association Hall of Fame. Like his wife, Cory is pleased that their daughter is growing up comfortable in the outdoors.
“As a dad, I want my daughter to grow up to appreciate the world around her, and I want her to be resourceful, too,” said Cory. “She’s already learned to respect sporting tools of any sort, whether it’s a fishing hook, a bow and arrow or any sort of firearm.”
The Kruses’ love story would make a good Hallmark movie, though it would play just as well on the Outdoor Channel. The two grew up appreciating hunting, fishing and the outdoors through their respective families. They first met when Cory was 16 when Catherine’s dad became his first ammunition sponsor. He also became Cory’s treasured mentor. Cory and Catherine remained just friends for years, competing together in shooting tournaments when they were still in their teens. As adults, they connected on another level and married in 2012.
“My dad loves Cory. When we finally told him about our relationship, I was a little shocked when my dad asked me if we ever break up, can Cory and he still be friends,” said Catherine with a laugh. “He’s loved him since the day he met him.”
Ten years later, their marriage is stronger than ever, and the two are ever more committed to each other and their family.
“It’s really been a blessing,” said Catherine. “Once you’re an adult, your parents can become your friends. We all kind of just do life together and hang out, and my dad loves that. He’s got a son-in-law that’s a best friend.”
As Cory and Catherine nurture their daughter’s love of the outdoors, they know she’s learning lessons that will last a lifetime.
“Living in the county and being outdoors teaches you to be mindful of your surroundings and have a sense of safety and awareness,” said Cory. “Watching out for snakes is a good metaphor for life. That doesn’t necessarily just mean watch out for the actual snake–but when you’re in the big city or in strange surroundings, you have to watch out for ‘snaky’ people as well. You learn wisdom and discernment, all those good things.”
As the couple has matured, and with the birth of their daughter, their love of nature and the outdoors has truly deepened.
“We both grew up hunting and fishing, but it wasn’t until the birth of our daughter that our conservation ethic intensified,” said Catherine. “We both grew up in the Houston area, and we’ve seen firsthand the development pressure that is swallowing up areas that were once wild. There’s a need for not only action, but awareness.”
So, when Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) reached out to the couple to enlist them as We Will Not Be Tamed ambassadors, it was a no-brainer. We Will Not Be Tamed calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit, and why we should be inspired to conserve it.
“We think it’s so important that people understand not only the harvesting aspect of hunting and fishing, but the conservation aspect that keeps hunting and fishing alive. We are home-schooling Claire, and nature trails and outdoor learning are a big part of her education. We want to make sure people understand that there is a dire need for conserving these outdoor experiences that enrich us all.”