23 September 2008

Hunters - Be A Mentor! Take Your Kid Hunting!

Posted by Darrell under: Archery .

All hunters have an opportunity to make a positive impact on a kid’s life. You can take a child hunting and potentially change their life! I have recently been able to influence an aquaintance of mine towards hunting. He is in his late 20’s and is really excited about taking up hunting. His name is Ernie.

Ernie told me about when he was a kid a friend’s dad offered to take him hunting with them. He was so excited! He got up early and packed up all his stuff he thought he’d need to go hunting and got dressed and waited, and waited, and waited for the hunter to pick him up. That hunter never showed. He was devistated!  This happened again. Plans were made. Ernie got up early (barely being able to sleep anyway because he was so excited) and then he was never picked up. He told me how crushed he was. His heart was broken.

Ernie never did hunt. He is excited about starting now - all these years later, but he didn’t get to experience the joys of hunting as a kid. (I’ll be writing more about Ernie soon). As I listened to Ernie’s story I found myself feeling some guilt. I’ve promised to take someone hunting a time or two where I let something interfere with it. I guess I didn’t think about how big an impact it could end up having on that person’s life. Instead of growing up with an understanding of and respect for hunters, they might not ever have the opportunity. Heaven forbid, but they might just grow up to be an anti-hunter!

The point to all of this is simple: Take a kid hunting. And, when you tell them you are going to, make sure you fulfill your promise. You know how excited you still get on opening morning? Well, that kid is probably just as excited when you tell him that you will take them hunting with you. Don’t let them down!

I spent this past weekend in the woods with my son. It was my son’s first hunting trip where he was actually hunting with a bow. We had a great time together. It was a terrific trip even though neither of us harvested anything. I was hoping he would get a shot opportunity so I spent lots of advance time scouting and determining where I would set up our blind. I decided that hunting out of a blind with him (he’s 13) would be quieter and probably safer than hunting out of a double tree stand.

The first afternoon we set up our blind in a little clearing where I knew the deer crossed. We had been sitting for about an hour when he started getting restless and climbed out of his chair and laid down on the floor of the blind. I was a little dumbfounded, but hey, if he wanted to spend the evening laying on the ground - so be it. I told him that if something came in he would need to get his bow ready and try to get set up while staying low in the blind. That way the deer (or turkey) wouldn’t be able to see his movements through the blind windows.

Next thing I know, here comes a nice doe. It walks down a trail and right into our little clearing. In fact, it keeps coming until it is about 15 feet (yes, 5 yards) from our blind and then starts grazing. Because of the position of the windows (I had several closed), Caleb could not see it. I whispered to him that there was  a doe in close and he needed to get prepared - which he quickly and quietly did. When he slowly moved into position and finally caught sight of the deer (just 15 feet away) I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head. I told him to go ahead draw back and take it using his top pin and aiming just a little low.

I forgot to tell him not to try and stick his bow out the window. Well, as you might have guessed already (and I would have never dreamed possible) he slowly starting trying to stick his bow through the blind window. For some reason he thought that he needed to have the bow outside the blind in order to shoot. Of course the deer quickly saw us and bolted. Caleb was dissapointed, but we both laughed about it. I mean, really, who would have guessed? I simply forgot to tell him to draw back inside the blind and shoot THROUGH the window.

During the course of the next couple of days  we saw over a dozen deer. Many were in range for Caleb, who shoots really well out to 40 yards or so. I let him decide when to take a shot. He never did take a shot. He got close a couple of times, but never felt that the shot was right. He was OK with it, and so was I.

For me, the experience of hunting and being with my son was far more important and rewarding than actually taking an animal. We had a lot of fun together and we both learned some things.

I’m looking forward to our next bow hunting outing together and I’m relatively sure that Caleb is hooked on bowhunting for life!

4 Comments so far...

Arthur Says:

23 September 2008 at 10:58 am.

I love taking kids into the outdoors. I don’t care whose kids they are, if they want to go, I try to make arrangements for it. I can’t imagine telling I kid I would take them hunting, and then not taking them. That is so cruel.

I can still remember how excited I would be as a kid, knowing that that weekend we would be fishing or hunting. It was what got me through the whole week. Because of that I can only imagine what this poor kid, who was forgotten, must’ve felt like when no one was there to pick him up.

Glad to hear that you got him interested. It’s never too late.

I’m sure Caleb will get his chance with a bow soon enough.

mike ansel Says:

23 September 2008 at 4:06 pm.

Darryl my nephew Derek took his nine year old son out of school for our bear hunt, and the kid was a total blast to have in camp. We enjoyed him and his antics, and he loved to listen to us tell stories from the past. He fit in like he’d been doing it his whole life.

Matt Says:

1 October 2008 at 12:06 pm.

Great post. I hope Caleb and Ernie both harvest deer soon.

Marylouise Says:

4 November 2008 at 8:16 am.

This is why I enjoy reading your posts so much; you have the gift of telling a story well. There’s another reason for taking kids hunting. Are you aware that hunting and fishing have dropped off 10% in 10 years? Why? Because of the lack of available land AND the fact that only 3% of the anglers and hunters are under the age of 17!

This is already sending ripples through the economy because they spent ~ $8 BILLION less last year. Since sports folks pay the fees that pay for rangers, marine biologists, etc. to keep lands productive, this kind of a loss is serious.

Lots of organizations are trying to interest kids in hunting and fishing. But the best way is to take your kids. They learn by watching those around them. As parents, we instill a love of nature in our children when we take them so they can experience the pull of natural settings.

I’ve written posts about these issues: Where have all the Hunters Gone - Parts 1 & 2, and Why should you get your kids interested in hunting? Because our kids are long-gone, I can’t write with the immediacy that you bring to your posts. Congrats!

If you happen to go by my blog, please note your site is on my blogroll — wouldn’t miss it. You remind me of things to share with my readers! Thank you so much.

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