Take children hunting

by on December 2, 2010

For many of us, our annual deer hunting trip or elk camp is a time for us to get away with the guys and share stories of hunting glories, both past and present. We selfishly guard admittance to our camp, and reluctantly grant membership to anyone new. But then things change. Those toddlers we used to leave behind with the “womenfolk” have gotten bigger and asked to join the group. It is at times like these that we realize it is up to each of us to pass on the heritage of this great sport of hunting. Here are some ideas how:

1. Take your own children hunting: There is nothing more rewarding than taking your children with you on their first hunting experience. For me and my oldest son, it was a mule deer hunt in Eastern Oregon. Thirty minutes in to the hunt, a bull elk with a small harem burst in to the meadow we were set up in. Although my son didn’t harvest a deer, the thrill of seeing that bull, breath steaming in the cool of the morning air, is a memory we both cherish.

2. Take a child who is not related to you: My kids are now 22, 20 and 17 and well on their way to becoming proficient deer and elk hunters in their own right. It is now time to look for other kids to introduce to the great outdoors and hunting. This can be more difficult than with your own children, but we all know kids in our community who could benefit from our experience and knowledge of hunting. There are many life lessons to be learned during a week in the company of the “elders”.

3. Mentor a child: Most states have a minimum hunting age of 12 years old. However, many states have implemented a mentor program, whereby an experienced hunter can take a younger child on a hunt prior to legal shooting age. The mentor acts as a 1×1 hunting guide, teaching the youth the ways of the woods. The mentor does not hunt, but rather insures the young hunter is both safe and successful.

4. Introduce a young adult to hunting: Many times our focus is on our youth, which is appropriate. But we also need to recognize those young adults who never had the opportunity to hunt while growing up. I am a prime example, as my first hunting experience came when I was 32 years old. I plan on passing this gift along, when I take my youngest son’s college roommates on their first hunt later this year. Remember, without a new crop of hunters, this sport that we cherish is destined to become a thing of the past. Attacks from anti-hunting groups, environmental groups, and anti-fur groups continue to increase. Without a new generation of dedicated outdoorsmen and women, hunting will eventually go the way of the dodo. Next time you are planning a hunting trip, take a kid. Pass on the heritage.

Remember, time in the field is a gift, savor it.

Until next time, Happy Hunting.

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