“Daddy, I see a deer!” whispered the little girl with barely contained excitement. “It’s a buck!” With her heart pounding, the little girl raises her rifle into position and searches fervently to put the buck in the crosshairs of her .223. “Daddy, I can’t get him in the scope,” whispers the little girl with growing impatience. Finally, BOOM! “I got him, I got him!” come the shouts of pride and accomplishment.
Now, that my friend, is handing down our hunting heritage to the little folks. The boredom, the excitement, the chase, the stalk, the cold mornings and the hushed and whimsical conversation coming from a tree stand or box stand between the parent and the child – it all leads up to that one moment when they harvest their first deer – and I dare say, the parent is more excited than the child.
The heritage, the culture and the lessons learned from understanding what it means to be a sportsman, a hunter, are more precious than any “Grand Theft Auto” or “Call of Duty” will ever deliver. Remembering to take a child hunting, whether it’s your child, your nephew or niece or even a friend, should be paramount in our lives. After all, if we are not the ones handing down this legacy, who will?
Too often than not, hunters fall under the illusion that teaching kids about hunting means you have to see a ton of deer or bring in a big buck to be successful. The real reality, however, is that kids will learn the outdoors just by being in them and experiencing the thrill of the hunt. Keeping in mind that they are little ones (and they get bored easily), walk through the woods and scout hunting land with them in and out of deer season. Teach them the little things by talking to them about shot placement or why you have to be quiet and even what it means to hear a squirrel barking in the distance. Walk with them in the woods to give them a hands-on experience of a fresh scrape, a newly rubbed tree or that perfect White Oak dropping acorns amidst a thicket of briars and pines. Our hunting heritage is much more than waiting in a stand and pulling a trigger – it’s a lifestyle and lessons that will accompany our children through life.
Too often, we get caught up in the excitement of our own hunting season and don’t always plan for the children to tag along. Let us not forget that these little ones are looking to learn our hunting heritage and we should be quick to include them. Don’t have leased land or a hunting club? The joy of living in the North Georgia Mountains is that we are blessed with a lot of National Forest hunting land and nearby WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas). Do a little searching on Google, take advantage of satellite images on Maps, scout these public lands – and take a kid hunting!