Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Notes from a recent outing...

This past weekend my eight-year-old son and I took a combination Halloween pumpkin-blasting, firewood-cutting, deer-hunting trip to Ye Olde Wife's Family Farm. Now my son has gone with me on any number of "hunting" trips but this was really the first time to take him with me when I was seriously planning on shooting a deer.

It would be a learning experience for both of us. Here are a few observations from said trip:

1. If you want to document your trip through the wonders of modern digital photography, it helps greatly if you remember to stick the Compactflash card in your camera before you leave the house.

2. When you think you've packed enough food and drink to sustain an eight-year-old on a daytrip, immediately double that amount and you should be good. And don't bother planning on eating yours. He'll want that, too.

3. While you may know to roll up your window when you're about to blast through a particularly muddy and slick section of washed-out county road, don't forget to remind your eight-year-old to do the same.

4. Leftover Halloween jack-o-lanterns make great targets for eight-year-old shooters, but they can only sustain so many blasts from a 20 gauge.

5. No matter how many times your eight-year-old son insists he's "man enough" to shoot your .50 caliber muzzleloader, tell him no.

6. If you feel guilty for wisely not allowing your eight-year-old to shoot your gun, bruise his shoulder, scope his forehead and instantly and permanently lose all interest in firearms, don't try to ease that guilt by handing him your brand-new $20 Swedish firesteel, your expensive custom-made knife and challenging him to make a fire. He will:

A. return 20 minutes later with your custom-made knife covered with charred firesteel slag and the formerly brand-new quarter-inch-thick firesteel ground down to the approximate diameter of a toothpick, or

B. return 20 minutes later at the head of a raging grass fire.

7. When you're bucking logs the wrong way, you know you're bucking logs the wrong way but you go ahead and do it the wrong way, anyway, make sure your eight-year-old son is out of earshot when your bar gets pinched and you let loose a string of expletives or you will be scolded for saying bad words and subsequently threatened with being told on to Mommy.

8. Your idea of "helping out" and your eight-year-old son's idea of "helping out" can vary wildly.

9. When it comes time to go hunting, make sure you pay attention to what your son is wearing. While you know that it will become chilly as the sun goes down, don't be a dummy and assume your eight-year-old son knows this, too. Otherwise, when it's way too late to walk back to the truck for a jacket you will be forced to surrender your nice warm fleece pullover to your shivering eight-year-old son and commence shivering yourself.

10. After you and your eight-year-old son have been sitting quietly in the blind for an hour or so, it's a good idea to take a quick look around before telling your son it's OK to noisily tear open that bag of Skittles...

11. When a nice fat doe walks across the clearing in front of your blind but the weeds and grass are so high the only part of her you can see is the top of her head, you will suddenly and belatedly recognize the wisdom of your eight-year-old son's words the last time you two were here: "Daddy, I think you need to bring the brushcutter down here, You can't see anything!"

12. When that same doe finally gets clear of the brush and you put the crosshairs behind her shoulder, don't start having an internal debate along the lines of "OK, I hope he's ready for this, old enough to understand what's going on, mature enough to handle the finality of death, etc, etc, hmmm, maybe I should ask him one more time if he's sure he wants me to shoot her, if he thinks he's ready."
Because when you lean over to whisper to your son "do you want me to shoot her?" the doe will instantly see your slight movement, the kind of slight movement you perhaps could have gotten away with had you been wearing the camo pullover that's now keeping your eight-year-old son warm instead of the bright neon blue t-shirt that contrasts so nicely with your orange vest.

13. When the doe you just busted blows and crashes off down the draw, taking with it what sounds like an entire herd of as-yet-and-now-never-will-be-seen deer with it as well as your plans to bowhunt this same draw next week, it's a good idea to start working on the excuse so you'll have one ready when your eight-year-old son asks you "Geez, daddy, why didn't you shoot the doe? I kept waiting and waiting but you never shot!"

No deer this trip but a great time was had by all. Deer gun season starts in a few weeks and this was a good trial run for our planned opening weekend camping trip. I guess if I could sum up the lessons learned it would be thusly "don't second-guess your kids and bring lots of candy."


  1. Awesome! I love hunting-with-children stories!

  2. Good luck! Sounds like a memorable weekend. Can't wait for the woods tomorrow.

  3. Great tale, and excellent lessons! Had a hunter last week bring his six year-old on the mule deer hunt. Added a mountain of challenges to a potentially tough hunt, but when we got it done, the smiles on the faces of both father and son were worth every bit of stress!

  4. Very well put, Chad. As the dad of a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, I can totally relate -- especially the junk food consumption. Good thing their mother doesn't know the crap they eat on a weekend trip!