We hear it all the time—children are the future. When we hear it, we believe it. But, when it comes down to it, do we capitalize on the opportunities we get to bring them with us?
It is so true. Children ARE the future and it’s best that we get them interested in our passions and lifestyles at the earliest age possible. No, they don’t have to pick up a weapon and make their first harvest at the age of two, but that is when they are at their most curious and their brains want to learn. Teach them. Let them be a part of the whole process. Disclaimer: I’m not saying or suggesting you need to take children to the stand every sit. There are obviously times when it’s not the smartest/safest move. However, what I am saying, is to make time during your season to take your kids along with you to help them fall in love with hunting.
My family is immersed in the hunting lifestyle. We live and breathe whitetails. Our girls have been a part of the processes from day one. They help us plant food plots, check cameras [eagerly], fill up feeders, make mock scrapes, hang stands [and by hang stands, I mean hand us pull up ropes and help tote stand accessories], brush in ground blinds, clean out rifle stands, look for new trails/rubs/scrapes/sign, etc.
Then comes the “hard” part, for us, the parents: taking them to the stand. I’ll be the first to admit, sacrificing a peaceful solo hunt isn’t the easiest thing for me. When I say we hunt hard—we hunt HARD. We put SO much work into our pre season in hopes of being successful in taking a mature deer on our hit list.
Everyone that hunts knows the drill: sit still, be quiet, have patience….those three things don’t exactly come easy for young children. It’s easy to get frustrated between the “I have to use the bathroom” to the ruffling of snack bags and the loud crashes of gear falling on the floor of the stands. Take them anyway.
When that first doe comes out and those big eyes light up, it will all be worth it. Count the squirrels with them. Help them identify the birds. Help them look for the infamous “flicker” of a deer tail or ear. Teach them what a lip curl looks like, point out the button bucks and tell them that it’s important to be able to distinguish them from does. Show them God’s grace in every sunrise and sunset. Take them. It’s a challenge, but the end reward is another steward of the land. Another hunter. That is priceless.
As the numbers of hunters across the United States decline, we must do our part in teaching the next generation about our heritage; about our passion; about conservation. It starts with us, now. Teach them so that they will teach theirs. Take them.