Well, things finally turned around a bit for Old Bub and me. On a trip to #9 Dam, we finally managed to catch some fish. We had been pretty much jinxed for awhile. 2020 has been quite a year!
Withe the early opening of small game hunting this year, I figured it was time for our annual look at a youngster’s first hunting.season. I am referring here to twelve year olds who have completed their Hunter Safety Course and have a license.
A primary issue, of course, is the gun. There are a number of positions on this issue. Some say that the first gun should be a cheapie, in case the kid decides not to continue hunting. Others recommend a hand-me-down, for the sake of continuing a tradition. This is okay, I suppose, as long as it’s not a piece of junk. Personally, I think that the first gun should be one with which the kid can hunt for a lifetime, building his or her own set of memories around it. In my case, after fifty-one years, I’m still hunting with the 20 gauge shotgun I got as a kid. I have several shotguns which are more expensive, but they just don’t have the memory value. Personally, I don’t think that the 20 gauge can be beaten as a first shotgun. It’s small enough for a kid, and big enough for an adult.
Hunting clothes are another consideration. Don’t just give a kid your old, worn out stuff. In the first place, it won’t fit properly. Secondly, it’s worn out. Instead, outfit her or him properly, thereby insuring comfort afield. Be sure that the clothes fit the weather, so that the youngster won’t roast or freeze. Good boots are nothing short of a must. It’s pretty hard to enjoy yourself if your feet are blistered, sore or cold.
One of the most commonly made mistakes when hunting with a kid is staying out too long. Maybe you’re one of those hunters who likes to hunt from dawn until dark. Chances are, a kid is not. Especially if the action is slow, they can get bored rather quickly, and start thinking about video games. Force a bored and tired kid to hunt for hours, and they will soon find an excuse not to go.
If you take a kid to a hunting camp, don’t get so busy socializing with your friends that you ignore the youngster. Nobody likes to be treated that way. Would you? There’s also an old philosophy that, in their first year at camp, the kid should act as “camp dog.” I, for one, do not subscribe to that theory. As a kid, if I had been treated that way, I would never have returned to the camp. If someone had treated my son that way, I also would never have returned to the camp.
Be patient with the young hunter’s mistakes. Remember, the kid is learning, just as we all had to. Your role should be that of hunting buddy and gentle teacher, not drill sergeant. Too much criticism, especially of the tactless, ill-conceived kind, can turn a youngster into a non-hunter very quickly. If you do it in front of others, it’s even worse.
If the kid bags something, be sufficiently congratulatory. To you, it may be no big deal, but to your young companion, it often represents the trophy of a lifetime.
We all know that success is very important to a young person. Use your skill and knowledge to the kid’s benefit. I really feel that, for that first hunting season, you have to put the youngster’s enjoyment ahead of your own. That may seem like a high price to pay, but it’s not. A hunting companion of many years, and a lifetime of good memories are the rewards.