Take a youngster out for a day of hunting

The one-day statewide youth squirrel season is today. The nation’s youth are simply the future of all sport hunting nationwide.

There are several people who are eager to say that sport hunting is a dying sport. From the latest figures that I’ve observed, for every 100 adult hunters, there are only 70 children (under 15) who are learning about this sport or outdoor activity. This is a situation that needs to be reversed or sport hunting could be close to being a dead outdoor activity by the year 2050.

Just about all children like to do whatever the adults in their lives enjoy doing. Sport hunting is no exception to this custom. If children are showing an interest in hunting, then the adults should take them into the fields or forests and start teaching them the basic fundamentals of this noble sport.

I can’t argue there are more activities for youth to do who are high school or junior high school age now than what there was when I was that age. In today’s world, it seems like parents and children are going in two different directions and have little time to be together.

Teaching youth about sport hunting gives families something they can do together that can have ever lasting memories. I can very well remember the many family hunting trips to Mason or Roane counties with my parents and grandparents. Going squirrel hunting on those frosty fall mornings are a few of the things that happy memories are made of.

Remember, it is unlawful to shoot, hunt or trap upon the fenced, enclosed, purple paint marked or posted lands of another without having in possession the written permission from the landowner. Even if the acreage is open, it is still a manner of good hunting ethics to obtain the written permission from the land owner. Here is where adults are setting a good example for young people to follow.

For many families, sport hunting is a tradition handed down from one generation to the next. Parents taking their daughters or sons into the woods carries a family tradition. Here is where the adults teach the kids the same skills they learned from their parents and/or grandparents.

Despite what some people may think, sport hunters are nature’s true conservationists. When parents take their kids hunting to teach them about nature and wildlife, it brings out the real conservationist in them. Parents need to explain the role hunters play in conservation. By taking them hunting, they become involved. They will hopefully learn the skills and the sportsmanship that will help keep hunting alive for their children.

When teaching youth the proper way to hunt, it helps develop positive skills that can last a lifetime; such as self discipline, endurance and patience. They will also learn how to accept disappointment when they come home “skunked” or empty handed. Here is where they learn that it isn’t the kill that is important, but the hunt itself along with being outdoors and close to nature.

Hunting also carries a big responsibility when anyone is carrying a real firearm. I have told both of my daughters that any gun is only as dangerous as the individual who is holding it. Additional responsibilities include: leaving the area or woods as good or better than they were found and respecting other sportsmen and women.

The subject of firearm safety can’t be over emphasized. Here is why this state has mandated the “Hunter Education and Identification Requirement Course.” No base hunting license may be issued to a person born on or after January 1, 1975 until they complete this course.

In my early years of hunting, most of the hunting accidents (50 to 75 Percent) involved youth hunters. This mandated the hunter safety course; along with the 400 square inches of blaze orange during the deer firearms seasons, as an outer garment has reversed this situation.

Adults need to get future youth hunters out to one of the many public shooting ranges and let them have some hands on practice with live ammunition. By doing this, they will be teaching the skills to where they learn to respect guns, not fear them. The various youth and regular hunting seasons are coming up. So lets get the kids away from the video games and take them for an entire day of hunting. Maybe when they get older, the parents can still go hunting with them and not have to go hunting for them when they become teenagers.

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