After harvesting a wild turkey last spring in our home state of Missouri, my now 7 year old daughter, Hailey, wants to try her hand at deer hunting. This blog series will detail our effort from pre to post-hunt along with a few tips for introducing newcomers to deer hunting.
Persistence. It's often the variable that determines success, especially in hunting. In Hailey’s first deer season, it made all the difference.
October 29 marked the opener of the early Missouri youth season. We hunted during the morning and afternoon. The morning hunt had some excitement when a small buck came by too quickly for a shot. The evening hunt had several squirrel sightings but no deer. The second day we opted for church in the morning followed by a short afternoon hunt. The warm temperatures had the deer subdued; we saw no deer on Sunday.
The early Missouri youth season came to a close without a deer for Hailey. However, my daughter referred to a comment I made earlier in the year.
“Dad, it’s just like soccer…I don’t get a goal every time. But if I want to get a goal, I have to keep playing.” That valuable comparison had Hailey prepared for as many sits as it would take to get an opportunity at a deer and eagerly awaiting the late youth deer season.
Mentoring a first time youth hunter this fall on a deer hunt? From an “on the hunt” standpoint, here are a few items to consider:
• Often, preparations (covered in earlier blog posts) will make a huge difference in the quality of the hunts; make sure you maximize pre-season prep.
• Use analogies that relate to the hunter you are mentoring. For Hailey, soccer is a game she understands and has participated in for a couple of years. This makes for an easy comparison into goal setting.
• Teach persistence while balancing boredom. Hunting takes time. Some new hunters, particularly youth, may think hunting is boring. Bring plenty of activities to keep your new hunter engaged and excited.
• Watch for squirrels and other wildlife besides your target species and discuss natural history. Why are squirrels there? What do they eat?
• Keep fresh on regulations and ethics by reviewing some do's and don’ts before a shooting opportunity comes up.
• Practice maneuvering the firearm in preparation for the shot. Pre-shot scenarios will prepare your new hunter for the real deal.
• Hunt until your hunter wants to leave. Plan for short hunts at first to gauge their interest level; try to leave while they are still having fun so they want to go again.
• If using a trail camera, refer to previous pictures that show actual deer activity in the area you are hunting.
How did the rest of the Hailey’s season go? We had a one antlered buck come in to the Vita-Rack® food plot the evening of the late youth season that offered Hailey a 25 yard shot.
Our season preparations had come together. Hailey and I had scouted, planted food plots (she worked extra hard on the one we hunted all four times), practiced with her rifle, and bought her permit. And with persistence on her side, she had also wrapped a tag around her first deer.