A trip to Uncle Edgar’s house always proved a grand adventure for kids. We’d all pile into the back seat of his huge black Buick and bounce along a gravel road to his secret fishing spot. Once there, we’d catch one fish after another.
Uncle Edgar promised an even bigger adventure once I got old enough. “One day,” he said, “I’ll take you deer hunting.”
Years later, when I finally became old enough to deer hunt, Dad and I paid a visit to my favorite uncle. We were sitting next to each other when Uncle Edgar turned to my dad and said, “So, do you have any kids yet?”
Uncle Edgar had waited too long. Suffering from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, he no longer recognized me. My aunt took me aside and explained how Edgar, driven by some imbedded memory, still gathered his hunting gear whenever the leaves turned. They finally started hiding Edgar’s guns from him out of fear that he would go hunting.
Not that it mattered. Unable to check on his remote deer hunting farm anymore, tree poachers had clear-cut his property.
Looking back, I wish my uncle had taken me deer hunting at a younger age rather than waiting until I was a teenager. Ages 6 to 12 are good times to take youths on their first hunts for squirrel, rabbit, or dove. Youths don’t have to carry guns, but the experience is invaluable.
Without the experiences that Uncle Edgar could have taught me about woodsmanship, gun safety, and animal behavior, my first deer hunts proved frustrating. My friends and I, all from non-deer hunting families, wandered aimlessly through the woods in hopes of success. I hunted for three years before I finally saw my first deer. Even today, while sitting alone in the woods, I still think about Uncle Edgar and the times we could have shared.
That’s why I urge people today to take their kids hunting while they’re still kids. Teach them well, and you’ll have a hunting companion for life. Kentucky has set aside several special seasons for youths, and special mentor hunts. These are great times to start your young hunter’s education.
Raising a hunter means a lifetime of learning. So don’t wait—or it might be too late.
Kentucky offers two special post-Christmas seasons for hunters under the age of 16. Youth hunters do not have to buy a license or permit during these seasons, although an adult must accompany them hunting. Check your hunting guide for more information.