The Outdoor Education of our Children

DuckAs I get ready to wish my daughter her 23rd birthday, I was thinking about the way I brought her up.  As a game, this year, I posted a bunch of photos of her when she was little.  In my favorite one, she is holding a canvasback.  In another, she is holding a fish and a razor clam.  She loves to fish and when she was younger I could get her to kiss the fish.  One time she talked to the worms and told them to catch a big fish.  That day she caught mine and her limits.  As she got older and the girl in her took over, she started carrying a rag around so she didn’t get stuff under her nails.  But she still fished.   When she and her brother where little they would cry because they could not keep the little fish.  It took a couple of years to teach them that those fish would grow bigger and be worth keeping and /or the regulations said they need to be bigger.  They hold true to this now and are the first ones to say, “Let that one go, he’s too small.”

I know she would not want others to know this, but she has peed in a bucket…a couple of times.  Shush, don’t say anything.  She wore trash bags as rain coats, but she stuck it out with me.  Her and her brother loved to go crabbing also.  We would come home and cook them up as fast as we could, sit around in a circle on the floor and eat crab.  At first I would be cracking all the crab and they would be stealing it out of my hands as fast as it was out of the shell…I think they let me have a few bites here and there.

Little FishThis is where I want to go with this blog…she doesn’t want to hunt, but she will eat wild creatures and loves it, but again, does not want to hunt.  She loves to shoot and when she comes up the first thing she wants to do is hit the range.  When I get home from work, she has all the gear sitting at the front door (guns in cases, ammo and targets in bags, spotting scope out and sand bag just waiting to be loaded) ready to shoot at the range.   They even now help the nephews and cousins out on the range.  I did take her on a turkey hunt once.  She wasn’t hunting and now that I think of it I wasn’t either.  She didn’t want to get up early, so after we ate breakfast, we went on a hike but this is another story.  She has not expressed that she wants to hunt.

The two reasons I bring this up is;  1. I wanted her to be open to the many different things out there.  For example, one day she might meet someone that is pro-gun and hunts.  I did not want her to look down on it and I want her to have as much  knowledge regarding the sport that she can.  I remember her telling me she had a chance to shoot a pistol with some friends, she said “only if my dad was here to teach me the correct way. ” Thank god she didn’t, it was a 1911 and I am pretty sure it would have ruined her from shooting again.  At 21, she said “dad, I want to buy a hand gun”….I said,” That’s my daughter.”  My other daughter called me once about an augment that some of her friends were having over gun safety and hunting laws…I’m pretty sure she set them all straight.

Big FishReason 2, is that I did not want to force her (or her sister) to hunt.  I see a lot of kids come through hunter education that do not want to hunt.  As a matter of fact, they do not want to be there at all.  Is it a second tag for a father?  Now I would love to see my daughter shoot her first deer, but do I want her to turn from and shun the sport?  No. I want her to educate others, to be open about hunting and one day when she and her sister  have children, come to me and say that she would like my grandkids to take Hunters Ed. If the day comes that they say, “Dad, I want to go hunting.” I might have to pick myself off the floor, but I will help them through it.

Once my son drew a tag for a doe, I got help from others and a piece of private land for him to hunt.  After him stressing that I would be angry, he told me that his basketball team needed him and that he would like to forgo his tag and play in a Tournament.  Yes, I was bummed. Yes, I wanted him to shoot his first deer. We taught him to stick with something, not to quit and he showed me that.  I believe that year his team went on to be the Nevada State champs, and yes I was a very proud father.

Now that I sit here and write, I came up with a third reason.  Since they were very young, they had been around firearms. They learned the very basics at first, and then as they got older they learned more.  They knew not to talk to their friends about the firearms in the house (in case one of them got bold and broke in); they knew not to touch unless I asked for them to go get one.  Again, I see kids come to Hunter Ed without any knowledge. Who’s teaching them the correct way to handle a firearm?  Our class is only so long and we cannot cover everything.  The last note, once our class is over, we are done and they still need guidance.

Big Kid Little KidWe are the knowledge, the trainers and the protectors to our children’s right to hunt.  Let’s teach them respect, how to handle a firearm and most importantly to be a respectful citizen/hunter.  Let us teach them that shooting at signs are wrong, shooting at wild game out of season is wrong.  Let us teach them that poaching is wrong and all poachers are, are  thieves. I don’t think anyone of us wants to hear of, or be the parent of a child that has shot someone or vice versa.  Accidents do happen, but let’s use our heads and minimize these. What’s the phrase? Knowing is half the battle?

Happy Birthday to my sweet daughter and thank you for letting me experiment on you!!  May you all find joy teaching your children the sport we love (and sometimes hate) and that they will have joy themselves.  It was never about another limit to me, it was about them having fun (memories) and bagging some trophies of their own.  Their smiles only made mine bigger.

Author of this post: The Outdoorsman
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