Since the moment I found out I was having a little boy a little over 3 years ago, I hoped that we would share similar interested. I am a huge soccer fan and had played myself since I was five. I am a big Kentucky basketball fan and proud alumni, and have been telling him I’ll pay for him to go to any college he wants as long as it is the University of Kentucky. (Extreme I know, but only a joke) Recently he did say he wanted to UK over two other instate schools. I am also an avid hunter, even though I am not as good at it as I wish I was. So these are a few things I hope he picks up along the way. However, he is his own person and those choices will be his to make but I wanted to share my passion for the outdoors with him so we can potentially have that as a bonding activity even into my old age. So I try to make these activities as exciting as possible and here is how I did this on a recent trip with him and my dad out to our farm.
My dad calls me up and wants to help move my deer stand but I don’t want to miss time in the afternoon with the little guy (Reese my 2 and a half year old). So we both decide that taking him with us is the best plan. Arriving at my dad’s house he has everything loaded and ready to go to the farm. Including the ATV which has recently come out of the shop! Reese’s eyes light up and he can’t wait to go. We have been building up the experience for a few days talking about going out to see the deer. The twenty minute drive goes incredibly fasts and Reese continues to ask where we are going and if we are going to see deer.
We arrive to the farm a few hours before dark and park beside an old red barn filled with a rusty combine and a light blue 1950s style truck that looks like Mater. Reese’s eyes light up and runs to the truck. I open the door and let him sit on the seat with its nearly exposed springs and snap a picture with the camera on my phone (for lack of better camera), while my dad starts the four-wheeler and loads a trailer with a few short tools. As we drive through should high grass surrounded by soybeans, we see a flock of 40+ turkeys scatter at the sight of us. Reese’s first time seeing turkeys in the wild, and I will probably remember more clearly than he will.
When we got to the old stand site we found a wild turkey feather that looked like had fallen off in the flurry of birds that we had scared off. I gave the feather to Reese and told him to save it for his pirate hat, at which he growled back at me “Argh Matey”, his typical response to the word pirate. The old stand came down. My dad in typical guy fashion had not assembled the tree stand correctly so once we got it on the ground we unscrewed a two bolts and flipped over one piece like it said in the manual. Reese had the important job of hold the nuts and bolts. His practice with his Bob the Builder tools came in hand as he twisted the wrench to “help daddy”. His help then included pickup up the ratcheting straps and carrying them a few hundred yards to the new stand site, as my dad and I hauled the stand to its new location. He grabbed a stick off the ground while we were working on the stand and we dropped what we were doing and had an impromptu sword fight that would have made Muriel Zagunis proud. With stand finished and the sun setting it was time to go to the big stand to scout for bucks.
We climb up in the enclosed stand which has more than enough room for three, and has about everything you could want in a deer stand except for electricity. We had been calling it Pa’s Clubhouse on the way out to the farm to drive up the excitement for trip. My dad was smart enough to bring three sets of binoculers with us, and we sat quietly for a few minutes (pretty good considering we had a 2 year old with us). Then the deer showed up in droves. after about 26 or so we sorta lost track. One nice buck a few smaller bucks. Some does and one even looked like had a set of triplets. No wonder the soy beans looked so worn out. with Reese on my lap he looked out the binos as best he could and I think he actually was able to see most of the deer. He was walking around the stand and switich optical devices several times. This continued for probably an hour and his attention went from the Deer to the lights in the stand that you push to turn on, to the can of bug spray (which I later regretted not using enough of). As the sun set we packed up and made our way home, stopped at a local archery shot and picked up an order my dad had made for his crossbow bolts.
I didn’t get to see the deer as clearly as would have on other days but this trip wasn’t about me. If you want your kids to be interested in the same things as you are you have to do a few things, one you have to expose them to them. If you don’t take them with you, they won’t get to go on their own. Two, when you take them, you have to understand that it’s not gonna be like when you go by yourself, if you are going hunting don’t expect to see many deer (unless you are in a covered stand in the middle of a soybean field 250 yards away from the deer). They are the priority not the hunting itself. If you are there for yourself, you are being selfish and are missing the bigger picture, and your kid will probably end up with a bad taste in their mouth for the activity whatever it may be. You must make it fun for them. What you think is fun probably won’t seem as fun to them. Reese wasn’t nearly as enthused about seeing the deer as I was, but he sure loved being able to go into Pa’s Boys only clubhouse. This will definitely be a trip I never forget. I hope he loves some of the same things I do, but I want him to be happy more than anything. Make the world your kids playground.
Image Credit: Ken Hawkins