Lessons Learned from a Little Hunting Buddy

Hunting with my young daughter has brought me so much enjoyment and some great memories in the outdoors. She is currently seven and finally entering the stage of getting ready to get behind the gun herself. I have to say at this point she has taught me almost as much about hunting as I have been able to share with her. She has been a trusty side kick scouting and enjoying a few short sits deer, turkey and duck hunting since the age of two. How could I learn so much from such a small hunting buddy you might ask?

Cristy and her "hunting buddy"- daughter Callie. Cristy and her "hunting buddy"- daughter Callie.

 

Getting kids involved in the outdoors and keeping them eager to return is all about fun. Keeping their little minds and short attention spans engaged can be a huge challenge for any die hard hunter. Just like preparing to chase the trophy of a lifetime, hunting with a small child is all about preparation.  I have learned many of these lessons the hard way and I feel so blessed that my daughter has talked all summer about the upcoming season.

At age one my husband and I would frequently take my daughter out in the spring to locate turkeys.  What joy it brought to see my little girls face light up when a distant gobbler would sound off in the sunset.  Wanting to take all this excitement to the next level at age two I brought my daughter along on several “mommy daughter turkey hunts.”  The preparation for these outings started months before season ever started. Knowing it would be much more work on my part I decided our only reasonable option for success would be hunting from a ground blind.  From day one I began to prepare my daughter for the upcoming adventure by setting  “mom’s camo tent” up in the yard.  With many strange looks from passing by vehicles we began laying down the ground work months ahead in the yard.  Callie knew when we played in the tent no matter where it was set up, it was time to play quietly. It also gave me the opportunity to determine which toys would never be allowed in the blind.  We had so much fun quietly coloring and stopping to look at birds and squirrels .  We never spent long periods of time playing in the blind and above all things it was always quiet and never boring. I love the challenge of a good mouth call and a good piece of glass is always in my mix of turkey calls, but for these outings I purchased push button calls in order to get her involved.  When it came time to go to the woods together for that first turkey hunt she was so good. We experienced one of my favorite hunting memories that day.  We called in a jake and Callie got so excited she jumped her little body into one of the side windows pointing at it and nearly flipped over the blind. Yelling “It’s a turkey Momma!” That one memory was worth all the time spent preparing in the yard and all the random toys and colors that were shoved into all my hunting pockets.

Callie- a future SOLA huntress! Callie- a future SOLA huntress!

 

I can become an obsessed perfectionist when it comes to calling game. I’ve read for some time now that some of the worst callers in the woods are actually the turkeys themselves.  She definitely taught me that you need to practice and become an effective caller, but perfection when calling game doesn’t always mean success.  Callie called in birds that season while making good and strange sounds.  She taught me that one foul note or two doesn’t mean a failed opportunity.

The following year it was time to expand on our hunting adventures together and bring her along for a few early season bow hunts.  Knowing that our sits would be a little longer than before, I always wanted to make sure she would have enough snacks to keep her comfortable and occupied.  This is one department that I had to learn the hard way.  Major lesson learned was to always take every snack out of the original package and put it in a zip lock baggie. Some adults can manage to drink quietly out of plastic bottles, but my daughter likes to squeeze them as she drinks making a horribly loud sound. Cell phones and electronic video games are normal in my hunting pack now. I always double and triple check that the sound is turned off.  I had always let her bring along a little portable game. Remember one of my biggest concerns is for her to have fun and not become bored with it.

The sun had set and deer were starting to move. I watched as a group of does approached about 80 yards out of bow range.  Callie was sitting quietly in the back on the blind.  I was focused on the group of does hoping that I would be able to harvest one while she was hunting with me.  The wind was right, she was quiet and I had bow in hand prepared for the upcoming opportunity. The does started blowing and stomping and acting crazy and then ran out of town.  Scratching my head trying to figure out what when wrong. I realized that my  little hunting buddy had turned on her game while she was quietly sitting in the corner and lit up the back of the blind with the worst subtle lighting. Another lesson learned.

In times like these we have to remind ourselves of the real reason why we are out in the field with our kids in the first place.  Hopefully with the right patience we will be able to pass along our knowledge and love of the outdoors to the next generation. Just like the lessons learned from failed attempts chasing after trophy animals we can learn lessons to apply for the next hunting adventure with our little hunting buddies.  I hope you can share some amazing memories with your kids in the field and I look forward to watching mine grow up in the outdoors.

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