The morning starts to break, cool, crisp and new. Like all of us he sits in the stand waiting, listening. Then a snap of a twig and leaves shuffling, the adrenaline rush, then quiet again. Hours pass with nothing but hope, soon that hope passes as well.  It’s late morning and he starts looking forward to the next day because now it is time to get home and go about the business of taking care of life.

Meanwhile, his son/ daughter has gotten out of bed and started their normal day. A quick breakfast, little to no interaction with the rest of the family then rush off to their room to have a fun filled weekend watching TV or staying on the computer being taught values by someone other than their parent. Values we wouldn’t want them to have, nor would we approve of them. Values like animal rights, anti-hunting or worse.

Everything the father holds dear, the cool crisp mornings, ever-lasting friendships, the adrenaline rush, the enjoyment of an unsuccessful hunt and the exuberance of a successful hunt, will now be in jeopardy in the future. Not bringing the child into the fold may not create an anti-hunter, although it could, it will create an indifferent non-hunter. By not taking time to include him/her on the hunt mentioned at the beginning of the story will force the boy/ girl to get their enjoyment, knowledege and adrenaline rush else where.

I believe bowhunters are obligated to introduce this great sport to new non-hunters, especially kids, as they are our future. Although no deer were harvested in the hunt, valuable time was lost, time to teach, teach about nature, animal  movements, and just time spent together.  If we were to each make a commitment to get one new person involved per year we would increase our numbers greatly and the fear of our sport being legislated away would be all but gone within a decade.

I never thought it would be possible that I could ever watch someone else hunt and be more happy over their success than any I have had in the past, but it happened. I took my daughter on her first hunt which happened to be a bowhunt. She has been with me as I hunted for at least half the season every year since she was four, just learning and talking to each other. Now she is nine and she still has much to learn but that one weekend she took huge strides. As for me, to be there the first time she drew on and animal and let down because it was turned wrong, then again because another animal was behind it was an emotional roller coaster not only on me but her as well. Finally, it all came together and she pulled off a great shot and she had her first animal. If I could explain, and I can’t, the excitement, jubilation and squeals in the blind, I would tell you those noises would be etched in you mind forever as they are mine. I would also tell you that with all my love of bowhunting I would set the bow down and not pick it up again as long as I could sit next to her when she hunts. Yes, it’s that rewarding getting a kid involved.

The whole hunt I just described was an accumulation of getting a kid involved. I wasn’t the guy sitting in the tree by himself, I had her with me. She was with me when we spooked animals and when we both sat there coloring in coloring books. She was with me when she had complete melt downs in the blind because she fell asleep and got a crick in her neck and when she learned that the moisture in your breath will stick to the top of the blind when its cold and create a single snowflake that will fall every few minutes. She was with me at five when I had shot my biggest deer to date and with me when we met my wife to track her first deer she ever shot. She has turned into a great tracker and is heading to be a great hunter. In turn I got to be with her on her first hunt.

As I said before, it is our obligation to get the kids involved in order to sustain this sport we love. The rewards will be better that you could imagine, not monetary, but memories. After all that, the one thing I can say to you, my bowhunting brothers and sisters, is that you will not have to worry about my daughter being anti-hunting, she is and will remain one of us because I got a kid involved. I ask that you do the same and help our future.

The morning starts to break, cool, crisp and new. Like all of us he sits in the stand waiting, listening. Then the snap of a twig and the leaves shuffling, the adrenaline rush, then quiet again. He looks at her and says “did you hear that?”. She questions back “yea, what was that?”………………………………