Take The Kids Hunting!

I had 3 days to head west to South Dakota and try to find a hot spot on public grounds before the guns came out.  BINGO!  Thursday morning I spotted a half of dozen bucks in a relatively small area.  Knowing there was a hot doe around, I watched from a distance the rest of the day.  There was nothing bigger than a 125”, but there would be a good chance of success for my 14 year old daughter to get her first South Dakota buck by bow.

I called my wife and pleaded with her to get my daughter out of school Friday.  After driving 4 hours west, she met me in a small town in South Dakota on Thursday night….

“Hey Dad…..when do you think we can go hunting again?”  “Maybe once the work is done we’ll go see if there’s a pheasant in the road ditch or shoot the 22s at some gophers.”  I think I will remember those words as long as I live.  But when hunting season came around again there was always so much work to be done.  Work…what do you mean work.  All we needed to do was get the gun and drive down the road a few miles.  Those “hunting” times were very scarce in my childhood but when they happened, they were times that will live in my memories forever.

I can’t remember if it was then that the outdoors consumed me or if it was just in my blood.  Dad didn’t hunt much and grandpa didn’t hunt much.  In fact, none of my relatives knew much about hunting.  What I am sure about is when Dad took me hunting, it opened a whole new world for me.

It took me until 20 years later to understand what Dad meant when he said the work had to be done first.  Of course, he was right.  Work needs to be done, but when is the work ever done.  The world is at a very fast pace and our children are growing up in it.  If we don’t take the time to share what we love with our children, they won’t know how to pass it on to their children.

This can be very challenging.  First, you need to wait for the diapers to come off.  Once they are gone, the twos and threes can drive a man crazy, although I took each of my kids out to the tree stand for the first time at this age!  Fours and fives are more comfortable at home around mom and here comes 6.  You notice you have a shadow that you can’t get rid of.  When they turn 7, they feel as tough as dad until the little fingers and toes experience the first cold spell.  And who invented cartoons on Saturday morning, in fact, everyday?  It feels a lot better under that nice warm blanket watching SpongeBob Squarepants and eating cereal.

Two years later you have a child that thinks you are the best thing since peanut butter and are ready to brave the storm again.  But then comes football, basketball, volleyball and wrestling tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays.  Soon, they reach their teens and think they know everything about everything.  Almost before you can blink, your children are all grown up.  We need to make it our responsibility, more now than ever to keep the hunting and outdoor activities passed down from generation to generation.

….After checking into a cheap motel, I unpacked my daughter’s hunting clothes and archery equipment.  She remembered to bring almost everything I had told her to.  Everything that is, except a certain muscle you develop in your shoulder for pulling a bow back.  This was blamed on volleyball being done for her a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, I had forgotten my allen wrenches so I was unable to lower the poundage of her bow.  Being in a very small town at 8-9pm at night, I raced to the only gas station to see if there was, by chance, any allen wrenches for sale…nothing.  A woman pulled up in her pickup while I was there and overheard my explanation (and desperation in my voice!) of what I was trying to find and that I was taking my young daughter out bow hunting in the morning and she couldn’t even pull her bow back.  She said she may have an allen wrench set out in her pickup and would let me use them.  She thought that it was great that a teenage girl was going hunting.  Saved by a woman that thought it was cool that my daughter was going bow hunting!!  Those allen wrenches ended up being just as important as Taryn bringing her bow.

Back at the motel, I lowered her bow to 45 lbs with no luck of her getting it back.  I dropped it another 5 lbs, still no luck.  2 ½ lbs more ….nope.  Finally, by dropping her bow down to 35 lbs, she managed to draw back pretty well.  Probably not a legal bow weight, but a good placed arrow can do a lot of damage.

I found myself driving 26 miles north at 10pm  to a spot that I had to hang 2 tree stands in an area that I had  never stepped foot in before.  Sure that the whitetails I had observed that day were out in their feedings areas, I felt my way through the section back to where my “whitetail staging area” was going to be.  2 hours later the task of hanging 2 tree stands at night was completed and I headed back to the motel.

Getting your 14 year old daughter up at 4am to take a shower with no scent soap, getting her dressed with scent lock and camo and trying to convince her she wouldn’t freeze her butt off in the tree stand isn’t an easy task!  2 hours before sunrise, we climbed into the tree stands that I had hung the night before.  As the sky started to lighten, I realized if an opportunity presented itself, it would have to be within 15 feet of our tree.  That’s fine, I thought, the closer the better.

It wasn’t long before we had a lot of deer moving all around us.  The next 45 minutes was very intense with immature bucks literally underneath our tree.  The hunt would have been all over with right then if I hadn’t told Taryn to wait for the buck we wanted.  It was time to get the bag of tricks out.  With a couple of soft grunts and a snort wheeze, the buck we wanted was coming in.  When this happened, there was a lot of thought process going on inside my head.  I was whispering to Taryn to get her body inline with the shot, watch the tree branch behind you when you pull back your bow, wait for a good broadside shot.  Deep breath, exhale and let the arrow fly.

The buck couldn’t have come in any better, slight quartering away less than 10 feet.  She shot!  The arrow found the liver and one lung.  The emotions were at an all time high with her (and my) adrenaline pumping!  She had felt “the rush”!  We recovered the buck a short time later with a lot of pictures!!  My wife always says that you can’t tell who’s prouder in the pictures…..father or daughter!

As a very dedicated hunter and father of two, I feel that a hunt such as the one in my story above is one of the best bonding times you will ever spend with your children.  Taryn and I will always have that “first bow kill” to talk about.  I also feel you need to bring your kids with you to the hottest hunting spots you know.  Young hunters haven’t developed the patience like us and need a lot of action to keep them interested.  I have been applying for a bonus point for Taryn for the last 4 years in Wyoming in hopes to take her to some of the best elk hunting spots the state has to offer and will also do the same for my son Boone.  This will be my greatest gift to them….the hunt of a lifetime while they are still young adults.

Take the kids out hunting while you still have the chance!!  They are our future!!

Randy Van Overbeke


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