With the upcoming hunting seasons here or soon to be here, many are finding themselves not as prepared as they thought. That includes me. I look at the calendar and quickly realize that bow season starts in less than a week but more importantly, our youth gun season for deer starts in just over two weeks. As we frantically try and get everything ready, I reflect on what we did last year in preparation for my kid’s first year behind the sights.
Their whole lives I have kept a gun in their hands as much as I could and even using biometric gun safety. But I don’t let them run around the house with dart guns or other toy guns as I believe at a real young age, that instills a false sense of security with handling the real thing. So I take advantage of my love for shooting and let them experience everything shooting that I can offer them. If they are curious, I want it to be around me and not someone else. If they want to shoot something and I can make it happen, I will. To a point. There is obviously a safety line and I will abide by it.
Last year with the intention of them actually hunting for the first time, it was all about guns and their training on handling and shot placement. With deer hunting, obviously the .22 or .410 wasn’t going to cut it, so they needed to step up into the big guns and shoot them accurately before I would let them hunt. I had two options. One was my 20 gauge Mossberg and the other was the TC Encore Muzzleloader. I let them both shoot the Mossberg first with some low brass #7 to get a feel for it. They didn’t care for that kick too much but could deal with it. So that got me nervous about the slugs. My son, who was 7 at the time was the bravest one and gave it a go on the slugs. He took one shot and drilled the bull but didn’t want to shoot again. My daughter who was 11 was a bit more hesitant but tried it anyway. She hit the bull but was done shooting that gun. Now its time for the muzzleloader and I knew I needed to think of something to make easier on them. Its time for a little constructive deceivery. I knew the gun was dead on with 100g of powder but I thought that would kick them too much and pretty much ruin the season. So I let them shoot with less powder. I loaded it up with 60-70g of powder which made the gun shoot very easy and it was just as accurate at short range. This made them comfortable shooting the gun which we know that its hard to hunt with a gun you’re not comfortable with. When it was time to head for the stand, I loaded the TC up full power (100gr of powder) and handed my son the gun. FYI, My daughter drew short straw that morning and got stuck with the 20ga. Long story short, my son, holding a gun he is comfortable shooting, is barreled down on a 10 point buck and slowly pulls the trigger and shot his first-ever deer. He wasn’t scared of the gun, he knew it would hit where he was aiming and he made a great shot.
Being comfortable shooting is a must especially when hunting. A clean humane kill is vital to the hunter being able to make a quality shot. If they are closing their eye and tensing up their body because they are scared of the shot, chances are the shot will be off. They will probably miss or worse yet, wound the animal and you may never find it.
Practice with your children often and early, even if it takes a little deceiving. Don’t let them learn from somewhere else.