Page 83 - South Mississippi Living - October, 2021
P. 83

 I grew up fishing and hunting with my dad who loved teaching young sportsmen about the outdoors. Dad always used to say, “You can either fish or take small children fishing, but you can’t do both at the same time. Decide what you want to do and stick with it.”
That same philosophy applies to hunting. When hunting with young children, dad frequently carried his gun, but rarely fired it. He wanted the youngsters to do all the shooting.
Too many sportsmen today don’t understand this concept. They want to hunt more than they want to take their children hunting. They expect youngsters to be experts and yell at them when they make mistakes. Instead, teach children how to do things and let them do it as long as they can’t harm themselves or others. People learn by doing -- and by making mistakes.
Also, make every outing an adventure for youngsters with limited patience. Dad always explained the interconnected web of nature. While walking in the woods, he took time to point out tracks and animal signs. He taught us how to identify various birds and animals we spotted and told us a little about them, even if that meant returning home with a slightly lighter game bag.
When introducing children to hunting, keep it simple and active. Rather than taking youngsters on something advanced like a deer or turkey hunt, try something like squirrel or dove hunting. A shooting preserve makes an excellent place to introduce children to hunting. Shooting preserves release
pen-raised birds and guarantee action. This helps youngsters improve their shooting skills. Even during the offseason, walk through one of the numerous beautiful parks and nature preserves in southern Mississippi. Observe the birds and other wildlife.
Let children practice their stalking skills by seeing how close they can get to a squirrel or rabbit without spooking it.
Although Dad didn’t care as much about bagging a limit as enjoying a good time with his children, he never compromised on safety. From the earliest age, he pounded safety into our heads. We never handled a gun without first making sure it was unloaded. We never loaded up until we left the boat or vehicle and began hunting. Whenever getting into vehicles or crossing obstacles, everyone unloaded their guns. It only takes a few seconds to reload, but it takes less than a second to cause a tragic accident.
Dad also stressed that we never fire unless we positively identified the target and what was beyond it to make a safe shot. If that meant not taking a questionable shot and letting a game escape, that’s what happened. We could always hunt other game, but can never take back a major mistake that ruins lives.
Because hunting with children takes effort, sacrifice and patience, many sportsmen prefer the company of like-minded adults. That’s fine, but parents will never meet better fishing or hunting partners than ones they created over time – the most precious, fleeting and unforgiving of all gifts.
       SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living | October 2021 | 83
       A young sportsman fires at a duck under the watchful eye of a more experienced hunter.
A young sportsman watches as a duck he shot splashes into a pond.
Jeremiah Kolb points to some incoming doves while A young sportsman takes a shot at a squirrel. A young sportswoman prepares Carson Kolb prepares to shoot while hunting in a field. to fire at incoming ducks during a
waterfowl hunt.

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