Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors Columnist 

I hope it doesn't spoil him


November 27, 2019

My 12-year-old grandson Isaac shot a good muley buck earlier this month. I hope it doesn’t spoil him.

In an effort to get young people interested in hunting, the state, along with a number of hunting organizations, offer special deals for kids. Youth hunts are scheduled before the opening of pheasant, waterfowl and the general big game seasons so that young hunters can experience the sport for the first time without the competition of others in the field. The weather is also typically a bit more tolerable earlier in the fall.

I’ve taken a few kids on those special hunts and they’ve all had success, but I worry it came too early and will be hard to duplicate. I ran into a guy in September who talked enthusiastically about his group’s effort to introduce youth to pheasant hunting. He said a Gallatin Valley rancher had opened his place to 13 kids who shot 39 roosters that had been released there.

Sounds like fun, but maybe a bit too artificial.

It’s doubtful any of those kids will ever get to hunt pheasants on private land in the Gallatin Valley again. And every kid getting a limit? How out of touch with reality is that? Let them enjoy their first bird instead of setting them up to expect three.

For a lot of kids, that limit of birds or that big buck harvested on a special hunt will never be topped. How many of them will hunt as adults after finding such easy success as 12-year-olds?

Hunting is seldom easy. Often it’s more hard work than fun. Hours may go by without even an opportunity to fire a shot. The kids who can endure that with little complaint will probably stick with it for a lifetime. A lot of others won’t, preferring instead to play Fortnite on their phones.

It wasn’t my grandson’s first buck, and he didn’t harvest it during a special hunt. He and his dad stalked the deer on foot on public land until he could get a shot, then dragged the buck through a mile of sagebrush back to the truck.

I probably appreciate the hard work he put in more than the 5x5 antlers that he’s sure to hang on his bedroom wall.

It’s a bigger buck than he shot last year and won’t be easy to top, but if he continues hunting he’ll surely get the chance.

Parker Heinlein is at [email protected]


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