LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Kan. -- Within the dark confines of a camo blind, Cara Shaw's eyes perked as they traced the movement of a nearby buck -- the first deer seen on her first deer hunt.
At her side, Val Jansen looked on with pride. For 15 years, she has shared every endeavor with her granddaughter.
Taking her hunting, though, was Jansen's chance to make sure one generation didn't suffer a painful frustration of another.
"I remember crying after my dad and brother would leave (to go prairie chicken hunting) and I didn't get to go," Jansen said.
"It was just the era of the '50s and early '60s. Girls didn't go hunting. It was hard for me to understand because I did almost everything with them."
Most of Jansen's childhood memories revolve around working alongside her brother and father on family farms long-ago converted into Wichita's suburbs.
She worked cattle, baled hay and drove equipment. Chores were non-negotiable and done daily, no matter what else was scheduled.
Jansen remembers climbing from a tractor one spring afternoon and into a prom dress.
During rare bits of free time, the Jansens enjoyed outdoor activities together, including fishing.
"But there were two things I didn't get to do," she said. "Girls didn't go hunting or to the state fair."
She felt even more an outcast at the all-girls Sacred Heart Academy. While other girls were doing sleepovers and playing records, Jansen was doing the work that sent her to school heavily tanned before it was fashionable, with arms and hands more muscled than many boys.
As with her childhood, her career has her working in a predominantly male world.
In 1977, Jansen became the first female game warden in Kansas and one of the first in the nation. The state hasn't had more than three at any one time.
After about 15 years in the field, she's been in a supervisory role for another 15 years. She specializes in investigations from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' Wichita office.
Her research shows she's America's longest-working female in wildlife law enforcement and the only one currently in Kansas.
Early during her career, she went on her long-awaited first hunt.
"I was probably in my mid-20s," she said. "Ever since it's been one of my favorite things."
Jansen's now a grandmother of five. She makes sure all get ample opportunity to experience the outdoors.
While she loves all, Jansen sees much of herself within one granddaughter.
"Cara was always the kid who wanted to go to the farm pond and go fishing," Jansen said. "She's never wanted to wear anything pink, no ruffles, no bows. Cara's never been afraid to get dirty."
She purchased Cara lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.
Jansen also bought the girl her first bow and shotgun. In a few years she'll help the girl purchase her first vehicle, which Cara swears will be a four-wheel drive truck so she can go hunting and fishing.
She's also trying to help the girl cope with the familiar role of being out of the ordinary at school.
Last year, Cara moved from tiny Ellsworth, with its nearly endless hunting and fishing possibilities, to Prairie Village in Johnson County, Kan.
There are about as many kids in her high school, Shawnee Mission East, as in her old hometown.
She said she mostly draws stares and questions from classmates when she talks of shooting and turkey hunting.
But she found a friendly ear last weekend when Jansen took her afield for the opening of the youth deer season.
More than an hour before dawn Saturday morning, they were in a pop-up blind at the edge of a well-scouted meadow for the girl's first deer hunt.
Silhouetted against the pale field, they watched the dark form of a buck for 50 minutes as they awaited shooting time.
By then, the girl that's a crack shot on targets was awash in a tidal wave of buck fever, missing a 30-yard shot.
Jansen offered the support of a family member and the advice of an accomplished hunter.
At sunset, the teen missed another buck from the same blind. But Cara left the darkened field in bright spirits because there are many more good hunts in her future.
Her grandmother will certainly help see to that.