Getting New Hunters Started 101....


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Dave McCracken
March 18, 2004, 10:08 AM
Pop and I had been sitting at the base of a giant white oak that had been there since before Lincoln was born. The slight hiss that escaped his lips and a slow shift of his head told me to watch most carefully. A shadow on a nearby hickory tree flickered and I raised the old H&R to my shoulder. Putting the bead on the squirrel's nose, I pulled the trigger and moved half a pound of organic compounds along the food chain. I was 12, and in my first season as a hunter...

Someone asked about this off the BB recently, and on the theory that if one asks, many may benefit from knowing.So here's my thoughts, and I'm sure the usual suspects will add plenty gleaned from accumulated centuries of experience...

Maybe your kids want to hunt with you. Or, some Significant Other, a friend or co worker wants to see what it's all about. Anyway, you've a new hunter to teach. They've shot their weapon of choice, are THOROUGHLY drilled in The Four Rules, and are equipped with weapon and ammo.

BTW, The Four Rules are....

Treat ALL firearms as loaded.

Point the weapon only in a safe direction.

Keep fingers out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.

Be aware of what's near your target and what's beyond it.

Sometimes worded differently,these are graven on A Tablet of Stone in the Temple of the Shotgun Gods.

To these, add a Commandment that eye and ear protection must be worn. In most situations, Blaze Orange is a durn good idea too.

Some places require new hunters to complete a Hunter Safety Course. Those that do not should. Take the new hunters to a course, and maybe even go yourself. Even if we've been hunting since Mastodon went on the Endangered Species list, there's more to learn.

Drill into the new folks' heads that we have the power of Life and Death when we hunt. Using that Power unwisely is tragedy in the making. Never shoot unless you KNOW the shot is safe and possible. Hail Mary shots are egregious.

While drilling, add a shot of Ethics. Ethics are what we do when no one's watching.

"Hunters often act completely alone, with no audience or group of peers to approve or condemn one's actions. The importance of this in building character cannot be over-emphasized". Paraphrased from Aldo Leopold...

Train your new hunters to be the kind of hunter we all want to be. Safe, ethical, effective..

Some notes about equipment....

Choice of firearm is covered elsewhere.Basically, it has to be safe and effective for the mission and shooter.

One small advantage of break action guns over repeaters in training kids is it's easier to see if they're loaded. Issuing one shell at a time and requiring ALL weapons carried by new shooters to be carried empty and open is a good way to start.

The year before I started hunting for real, Pop had me come along while he hunted, using that H&R empty. There wasn't even a 16 gauge shell along. When I demonstrated to Pop's complete satisfaction I was worthy of trust, I got one shell at a time.

Also, there's something to be said for leaving one's own shotgun at home the first trip or two and just handling the kid, kids, and/or dog. We get few chances to do things right the first time, and this is something that MUST be done right.

Something is also to be said for having them along as observers only, first. Taking my kids deer hunting in a ground blind didn't hinder me much, and the companionship and "Bonding" that occurred are memories we'll all keep until the grave.

As to what to hunt, your local DNR can clue you as to small game opps and seasons.

Squirrel hunting is a great place to start. Squirrels are plentiful, easy to find, the hunting occurs on nice days in pretty places, and the shots are relatively easy.

Also, squirrels are tasty, part of the job description for prey species.

Other Upland hunting is good also, from the anticipation and excitement of a turkey hunt to the furor of a large dove shoot, but emphasize Safety, Safety, Safety. I'd stick to just the kids and you for starters. Some folks do not like to hunt with brand new shooters, and oft for good reason.

And emphasize to the new folks that hunting is so much more than just killing. Killing is moving life along the food chain from one organism to another, and when done by people it should be fast and humane. Some of my most memorable hunts had little or no meat at the end of them. Hunting is a return to our roots, a drink from the headwaters of our heritage that heals as it quenches.

And when we sit down to a meal that has never been in a supermarket, another lesson clicks into place. We provided this meal, and the kids learn it as if by osmosis.

We provide. That's OUR job description....

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TrapperReady
March 18, 2004, 01:13 PM
Introducing new hunters is a time when I actually prefer preserve birds. Often, the fields are laid out in a fashion which allows for some easier walking lanes. Also, you KNOW that there are birds out there, so if you do your part there will be some excitement and something to bring home.

Personally I favor the "come along and see" approach, where the future hunter doesn't have to have a firearm. It takes a lot of the stress of off everyone, and you can spend a lot of time describing exactly what you are doing and why.

Set good examples and make sure they've got appropriate safety equipment. Also, especially with younger kids, keep the initial trips kind of short. It won't tire them out as much and ensures they stay focused and interested.

One last thing (for now) about young kids... pay attention to how they are able to move. Grass or brush which is nothing for an adult to walk through can be a serious obstacle for smaller kids. Slow down and move at their pace. If your dog is normally hyper and chases after ringnecks for miles, then see if you can use a friend's pointer.

Notice on the picture of my boy...

Blaze orange vest and hat - $29.00
Custom plugs - $35.00
Shooting glasses - $12.99
Big ole' grin - priceless

SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY

http://www.fototime.com/{7B666091-3E0F-4099-8CA5-D29A7AE39B7B}/picture.JPG

sm
March 18, 2004, 02:22 PM
Dave
TrapperReady

I can't add much...

The Old Man and The Boy - Robert Ruark

Granted this may seem like an older book to some - the lessons taught in this book haven't changed.

I've given many a copy to a youngster . Not sure whom enjoyed the reading most, the youngster, the parents of youngster, or the fella that gave them the book. ;)

Dave McCracken
March 19, 2004, 07:13 AM
Thanks, folks.

TR, good idea about preserve birds, and that picture is terrific. He and you will remember that day alll your lives....

sm, Ruark was the first author I looked for in the old days when buying magazines.

Let's see what else pops up on this...

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