I have not done it in a few years but I think I might this weekend. The young sportsmen hunt, what we use to call the juvenile hunt for kids 16 and under is this weekend. Youngsters under the supervision of an adult can go deer hunting and use a rifle.
Reckon where I would be if an “uncle” had not taken me hunting and fishing? Down in Louisiana, we called them uncles. If a kid did not have a dad to take them hunting and fishing, often an adult and often not even related, would step in and do so. I had a passel of them. Uncles Lloyd, Lester, Bobby and Alphus made sure I got in plenty of swamp and boat time. Uncle Lester, now a spry 80 and I, still fish some each year.
So this weekend you have a chance to do yourself and a youngster a favor. Take them hunting. Now keep in mind, they have to have passed the hunter education course and have their card or paperwork with them. They also have to have the proper license. In addition, for every youngster, there must be an adult in supervision and that means, according to the regs, close enough to take control or the gun.
There is a lot of good in taking a kid hunting. Unfortunately, a lot of mistakes are made as well. Might be a good idea to touch on a couple of them. Might keep some from being made.
First, remember, it is the kid’s hunt, not yours. Do not impose your personal goals or rules on them.
If a kid wants to shoot a doe or little buck, why not? Heck, what is it going to hurt? And if they miss, so what? No big deal and tell them so, right.
Comfort is a big one. A kid has trouble sitting still in an easy chair. Hunt from a comfortable place. Ground blinds are super for juvenile hunting. A rest for the rifle is important.
Many youngsters have a hard time holding a rifle steady. I do so I use a rest. Make one for the kid and don’t rush them into the shot. In the line of comfort comes food. Kids eat like a slot machine devours quarters. Take plenty of snack food.
The cold . . . if it is cold, can be a quick hunt destroyer. Hey look, if it is cold, don’t get out there two hours before daylight and pretend you are an owl. If you do, you are going to have a half-frozen, antsy kid ready to go home before it is light enough to shoot.
If your “kid” is 15-years old and been hunting 10-years, that is a different story. He/she is likely to be telling you to sit still. But always remember, this is their hunt. They make the rules. Kid says, “I’m ready to go.” You go. You do not say, “Let’s stay just another 30-minutes.” Heck, it aint about killing anything…is it? Least, it shouldn’t be.
I very well recall a hunt in Illinois. Dad was committed to taking his son. At about the last minute, daughter decided she wanted to go.
Dad asked if he could hire me for a half-day hunt. Sure, no problem. I scouted the afternoon before, slammed up a quick natural ground blind and we went. It was about 29-degrees that morning.
Twice, I asked Vickie if she was cold. I was but no, she was fine. Then, she said, “There’s a deer.”
When I saw it, I was speechless, could not say a word. So she shot it. Little girls -- by now she is probably a college graduate -- can sure scream. Old guides can too. Huge deer.
I am glad she wasn’t cold. I even refused to take the money for “guiding.”
How about a quiz while you are out there. One like, “What kind of bird is that?”
How about, “What nut is that squirrel eating?” Get the point. Many interesting things to see, things better than a game on an I-phone.
However, if that is what they want to do, let them play on the devil’s tool.
The walk in and out of the woods, providing it is daylight can be another educational jaunt. Good time to point out things like tracks and scat, rubs, scrapes and the different varieties of trees and plant. All kinds of things.
Now this is a biggie. I have saved this little bit of advice for last but I think it is the most important. Quite often, that kid is going just to please you.
The youngster may not want to go hunting at all, may have no desire to kill anything. That is not the end of the world. If he or she is not red hot, jumping up and down to go, don’t freak out. It happens.
If you can determine that child does not really want to go, give them a way out. Your wife will know and she will know the way out.
And this happens as well. You may take a child and they appear to have a good time, maybe even kill something.
However, they show no interest in ever going again. That too happens often and that too is okay. The world will not go dark. That was the experience with my son. He shot at one, missed and that was it for deer hunting.
But the overriding factor to remember is it is about the child, not you.
It is not what you want or what you think. It is THEIR hunt. Do all you can to make it fun. That is YOUR job.
The hunt is this Saturday and Sunday, read up on the rules before you go. Remember, blaze orange on you and the youngsters, head and upper body at all times.
And send me a picture when you are done.
Contact JOHN L. SLOAN / firstname.lastname@example.org