I wasn't overly optimistic that the rains would subside enough by Saturday afternoon to take my six-year old son, Brock, on his first deer hunt, but the weather cooperated beautifully. The deer, however, must have missed the memo.
Lack of deer movement aside, my son had a great time. We were on some private land that my dear friend Tom Ferris owns in Yucatan in southeast Minnesota. We had put up a double tree stand this past August on a route that is known for bedding deer and typically some movement from bed to field, at least that's what the trail cameras had been showing. Taking kids in the field definitely puts a new perspective on hunting or even fishing for that matter. Patience and expectations need to kept in balance (high on patience and low on expectations).
Safety was rule number one, so making sure he had his safety harness on and attached once he climbed up the ladder was key. He was outifitted in some throw together camo and had his own backpack to create a small sense of ownership and individuality complete with a flashlight, binoculars, and most importantly, snacks. Bologna and cheese with some apple slices and a bottle of juice kept him content. Showing him how to use my range finder as he loudly whispered out yardage to every tree in our near and far proximity definitely helped pass the time that I was hoping would have been filled with us staring at deer. Sharing my sunflower seeds and teaching him the inner workings of how to crack the shell and extract the goods took some time, but he manged to get the hang of it despite sending shockwaves of crunchng sunflower seeds throughout the woods.
Brock got to learn to tell the difference between the calls of a woodpecker, crow, and owl, and even heard the valley's coyotes chime in like clockwork at sunset. These are the things that make up time in the field, and these are the things that our future outdoorsmen learn to appreciate.
His enthusiasm for the hunt was evident, and truth be told, he had no expectations either. He glowed from ear to ear when I asked him if he had a good time. As we exited from the woods into an open field, he was already asking when we could do it again.