I could not wait to start taking my son hunting, and yet, we didn’t even have kids yet! t fondly remember being newly married and noticing that it didn’t take long for the conversations of having children to surface. I could not help but notice that my heart’s desire was longing for God to allow me to have at least one son in the mix of children whom I could raise within the legacy of my family history so closely tied to hunting. God was especially generous, because I have not one, but two, young boys who are now roosted on our family tree and already bearing camo-clad fruit on the branches of our heritage as hunters. Taking my son hunting was something that I could not wait to experience.
Taking a boy hunting is a recalibration of the brain like nothing you will ever experience as a hunter. I did not realize I would have to un-learn some hunter-habits that were submerged deep inside of me. Rain, punishing wind, hours of nothing but silence, or tree stand sits until 2pm were typical for me. The problem is this: those adult hunter-habits are recipes for brutal failure if you want to teach your son or daughter the riches found with the lifestyle of hunting.
Taking my son hunting taught me a lot. Here are but a few mind warps I had to fight through in order to introduce Cole to hunting in a way that would make him actually want to go back into the woods again:
Make Your Mission About Him And Not You. Sounds simple, right up until the moment when it is 67 minutes before sundown, in the peak of the rut, with the perfect wind, on a farm where you have seen a big buck, only to hear the gentle whisper,
“Dad, I gotta poop. Bad.”
It is in that moment that must recall quickly to memory that your mission is about him, not you. If he feels disappointment, on any level, he may just end up associating hunting as a pressure-filled sport of which his six year-old brain wants no part of at this point in life.
I have learned that my sons cannot hunt for six hours in the cold and still call it, “fun.” I have learned that it is ok to let the sun come up and then go deer hunting. I have learned that it is ok that you leave after only being there one measly hour. It is ok if they want to throw rocks in a creek, even though a turkey is thunder-gobbling 200 yards away (all of which I have experienced).
I tell myself over and over again, even to this day, “Today is about him, not me.”
See The Bigger Picture. Hunters live smack in the middle of an ecosystem where at every turn you have a chance to expose your son or daughter to the artistry of God. Never dismiss stopping to investigate the majesty of a butterfly, the host of sounds a crow creates, or what separates the look of a hickory tree from a persimmon. You have the opportunity to teach your child critical insights to life that few kids today even care about.
Fast forward 20 years.
Your son is now in the workforce, as a software salesman in corporate America, yet he knows, and can converse about, the fact that a sawtooth oak will produce acorns faster than any oak out there. You are forming a man who will one day have deep, deep wisdom that spans across many subject matters, and it started because he learned things from his dad while in creation that some kid who was hooked on an Xbox cannot fathom.
Keep Them Comfortable. Remember that your tolerance for weather is in no way equal to his. Temperatures that are chilly to you are freezing to him. Seek out clothing that is synthetic, not cotton, and always pack a small fleece for him, no matter what (this has saved the hunt for us more times than I care to remember).
Invest In Two Primos Products That Have Transformed Younger Hunters. The team at Primos has honestly made hunting with kids and for kids possible in ways it never before seen until the Double Bull Blind and the Trigger Stick were launched into the market.
The Double Bull Blind single handedly sped up the timeframe in which my oldest son’s hunting journey could begin, because, I was able to take him with me at age 3 when he normally would not have been able to tag along until he was several years older. By having a blind, he could stay out of the damp air, move around, play with a toy truck, sleep, snack, or move around, and around, and around.
Kevin Meacham, who is at the heart of production with Primos, and I were talking not long ago about blinds in relation to our sons and he said, “You know, honestly, it’s made hunting with my son possible. I don’t think we could actually hunt when he’s this young were it not for that blind.”
The other life-saver from Primos is the Trigger Stick.
Friend, trust me, if you take your kids hunting, just get one. My oldest son, Cole, uses the longer version for hunting out of a Double Bull blind, and the shorter style for turkey hunts when we need to be more mobile and hunt traditionally without a blind. The concept is simple but deadly: the stick keeps the weight of the gun off of him and allows him to hold that gun up long enough to shoot. I honestly cannot imagine not having one, for the Trigger Stick has allowed Cole to drop animals time and time again.
The clock is ticking toward that day when he pulls out of the driveway and into manhood. Use every minute to invest your heart into his heart, and you will see a return on investment for the rest of your life, Dad.
BONUS FEATURE: Watch Jason & Cole Cruise recently on Sportsman Channel “A Turkey Hunt Exposes A Harsh Truth About Life.”