Getting our youth out to enjoy and appreciate nature is a real challenge these days. Especially because parents are competing against high tech video games that are made to simulate exactly what we want them to experience, without having to do any work.
Kids can sit in the comfort of their own home, relaxed in a cozy chair, covered in a warm snuggy, sipping on a tall glass of soda, and munching on a bag of chips. All while their eyes are fixed on a make believe outdoor setting that provides them endless opportunities to shoot any kind of wild game they want to hunt. What's worse, is that most of the video games have are our children shooting people as well. Why would our kids want to go outside with us and risk getting cold, dirty, or hungry in order to experience virtually the same thing inside their own house. In my opinion, we are doing our children a serious injustice by not getting them out to discover the intricacies of the outdoors, that they can experience no other way.
My children are no exception. I have taken all eight of our children hunting with us each year. My three youngest children were packed on my back as young as four months old, high in the mountains. We took them to Africa, New Zealand, and on almost all of our yearly elk, deer, and antelope hunts. However, I still have to pry them away from the computer screen to get them to go hunting with me. But the fight is well worth it, once they forget about their games and their eyes light up with determination and excitement. This occurred for me on one unforgettable occasion when my nine year old son Landon, surprised me with an insightful, and very unique new hunting strategy.
In April of 2007, we took our three youngest kids to Texas to hunt hogs for spring break. The two youngest were only eight and nine at the time, so this was their very first hunt with a rifle. We were not far from Galveston Texas when we met up with the owner of the property where we would be hunting. We enjoyed a traditional, and very delicious Texas barbecue dinner, then headed out for the hunt. The kids were all dressed in camouflage, and fully equipped with their own binoculars and packs. We drove around for quite awhile before seeing any kind of wildlife. The property owner showed us where the hogs were rooting the ground and destroying a great deal of his land. He was more than happy for us to help him get rid of some of these nuisance animals.
Late in the afternoon is when we finally started seeing the hogs emerging from the brush to feed. I was surprised at how green and dense the foliage was where we were hunting. I had imagined it to be a little dryer and a lot more open. It was beautiful, and every so often we would catch a stunning glimpse of the ocean from the property. As we approached the first group of hogs, it didn't take them long to scatter before we could set the kids up for a shot. This happened a few more times, and I was beginning to worry that the kids wouldn't get an opportunity to harvest one. As a mother, I was hoping for a very fun and successful experience, so that the kids would develop a love for the sport.
What happened next was a moment that I will continue to laugh at and treasure forever. Fortunately we caught this moment on video, and I most certainly plan to supply it as evidence at Landon's very special occasions, such as his wedding. We slowly stopped the truck, when we spotted about ten hogs in the open. We helped Landon get a dead rest, and we whispered calming words of encouragement in his ear. We told him where to aim, to take his time, and to squeeze the trigger. When the hog he wanted was clear to shoot, I quietly whispered, ok, you can shootâ. But he didn't shoot. I repeated, Landon, it's ok, you can shoot nowâ. Still nothing. I looked at my husband, and unknowingly shrugged my shoulders, then said again, Landon, go ahead and shootâ. We all waited with anticipation in silence, hoping Landon hadn't frozen with buck feverâ. All of a sudden, a loud boom came roaring from his .257 roberts, and in an instant, his 117 grain hornady bullet ripped through two hogs, dropping them both. I couldn't believe my eyes. I yelled, Landon! You got two! You got two hogs! You did it!â I grabbed him and swooped him in my arms, and asked him, Did you know you got two hogs?â His nine year old response was priceless. Yeah mom, I did that on purpose. I waited for the hogs to line up so I could get two with one bullet, just like they did on Open Season!â We all burst out laughing.
For those who don't know what Open Season is, it is a hysterically funny disney movie based on a mule deer (Ashton Kutcher) and a grizzly bear (Martin Lawrence) . There is a scene in the movie, where the hunter has his crosshairs on both the grizzly and the deer, then says, Wait, wait...two heads, one bulletâ, as he tries to shoot them both.
Landon shot one more big hog that day. We also saw a few alligators, and an armadillo. It was a very eventful and memorable day. I was more excited to experience that with my son, than I am to harvest my own trophy. Spending time together in the outdoors, is an activity that is becoming less frequent for so many families. Let's get our kids outside so they learn valuable life lessons, and enjoy all the beauty that we have been blessed with.