The Outdoor Sports Web - Bowhunting with our YouthFeatured Article
March, 1997

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Introducing Our Youth To The Outdoors and Hunting
by Keith Gray

There's a growing dilemma in hunting today. One we are inflicting upon ourselves. Not purposely, but it is happening all over the country. With the numbers of new hunters dropping and a lot of the older group quitting, the hunting fraternity is losing it's strength in numbers, right when we need it most.

20 years ago, I took up bowhunting, probably just to spend more time in the woods, but somewhere along the line the archery bug bit me good. Approximately 10 years ago, I hung up my guns and have only bowhunted since. I thought, at the time, it was the best choice I had ever made in my hunting career.

During the last 14 years my wife has graced me with 3 bright and beautiful daughters. Kim, my 14 year old, has always understood the need for game management. But, never showed an interest in the hunt itself. (She is the fisherperson in the family.) The problem occurred when my middle daughter, Tricia, reached 4 or 5 years old. Every hunt I went on was started with a teary eyed little girl standing at the window watching me drive away. Not a good way to start what is supposed to be an enjoyable hunt. Terri, my wife, and I discussed ways I might be able to take her with me. We just couldn't come up with anything that would work.

Being an avid tree stand hunter, it just didn't seem safe, not to mention the problem with movement and a mouth that never seems to stop moving. Now, don't get me wrong, I took my children to the woods and sat in make shift ground blinds, but we never had any luck. I was afraid the kids would get bored of hunting before they ever reached an age where they could hunt by themselves.

I started contemplating going back to gun hunting. Then I was approached by a good hunting friend, Henry Hatch, about trying one of the new tent blinds. I looked at several that I'm sure work just as well as the one I finally chose. My problem was I needed room - lots of room. We needed room for three. The blind I finally ordered is called a Lucky Tent Blind, sets up in 6 seconds and is 7'2" across inside. This blind has 15 windows. 10 are viewing holes with camo mesh stretched over them. You can see out, but wildlife or people for that matter, can't see in. 5 holes are open for shooting holes. All have camo flaps so you only open the one's you need, which is nice for keeping the cold north wind off of you.

Now was the time for the real test. We had gotten lucky by locating a deer lease in West Texas that had an abundance of deer and turkey. Matter of fact, it's in an area that boasts more deer per acre than anywhere in the world. Next, we made several trips down scouting for the perfect location. After finding the best place, we set up, cleared some shooting lanes and left, allowing a week for scent to leave and every thing to calm down.

By the end of the week I was as excited as the kids were. Friday the truck was loaded and ,when school let out, the kids and I where on our way. Terri couldn't go, she figured Amber, age 1, was still to young to participate.

Saturday morning found Kim, the oldest, wanting to stay in camp with the family members of the other hunter's in our group. But, there was no stopping Tricia. She was going hunting and maybe something exciting was going to happen.

The first thing I learned was that Tricia can see in the dark. Long before gray light, she tapped me on the leg and whispered that there was a doe in front of us. I looked into the darkness seeing nothing but pitch black. I keep white carpet on the floor so I can see my gear in the dark, I found my light gathering binoculars, looked out and sure enough, I saw a large doe standing 30 yards out. I was impressed.

As the first rays of dawn came out of the east, deer started showing up. By 7:00 am we had 13 deer in front of us, 7 bucks and 6 does. The bucks were all young, but to Tricia they were all shooters. When I informed her that I wasn't going to shoot a young deer, she puffed up, sat in a corner and glared at me. A small spike got too close to a 3 point and received a quick hoof to the top of the head. That got Tricia going, she hopped over and said shoot that mean deer. When I wouldn't, it was time to go back to camp.

Back at camp it was "Daddy, no shooting, no hunting, bunny hugging, no good.."

By afternoon, she loved me again and was ready to go back out. And this time Kim was going also.

Once more, back in the blind, it wasn't long before the animals started the evening feed. First thing in was a large fork horn. I had seen him on a scouting trip earlier. He was a 3 1/2 year old that should have been culled, but I let him walk. I glanced at the kids, Kim was smiling, Tricia was glaring and pouting.

The fork horn got real nervous, starred down the two track where we could not see, stomped twice and bolted back the direction he had come from. I grabbed my bow, nocked an arrow and told the girls to listen. I recognized the yelps and putts coming down the road, but the girls didn't.

As the flock of hens came in to fifteen yards, I whispered, "the one with the 3 inch beard is going home with us". The arrow hit right on target and the bird was down in seconds.

After retrieving the bird, I informed the girls that I had probably upset the rest of the evening hunt. Everyone agreed that it was quite all right. We had our Thanksgiving bird and we had accomplished what we had tried to do for a long time.

As we sat there admiring our trophy, both girls at the same time looked up and said listen. The clucks and putts got louder as the second flock approached from behind us. As they rounded the edge of the brush, at 12 yards, the 6 inch bearded bird was dropped in his tracks.

Well, needless to say, what a hunt! I now have two up and coming bowhunters and a third on the way!

As I stated in the opening paragraph, Bowhunting, gun hunting, or just hiking, We all have to do what we can to get kids out in the woods. With a little luck the next generation might be the largest group of outdoor people to ever grace the woods. The future of hunting and preservation of wildlife is up to us, all of us.

The Author, Keith Gray, owns KTK Construction and Absolute Foundation Repair in Austin, Texas. In his spare time enjoys hunting, fishing and guiding. Visit his website, HuntNTexas, on the Outdoor Sports Web for more information on hunting in Texas.

You can Click Here to view photos and read about his successful Illinois Hunt!

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