Taking a kid hunting can be the most rewarding, enjoyable thing you’ll ever do, but you have to pick the right times, and hunts, if you want to make a one-time event into a tradition.
Let your kid get cold, or hungry or lonely or scared, and you’ll have a tough time getting a repeat companion. Instead, take plenty of snacks and try to ensure that there’s enough action to keep things interesting, but not so much that hunting seems like work. Yeah, sometimes your kid is going to have a hard time staying quiet, or being still, but that’s part of the fun, too. You can’t take things too seriously or you run the risk of turning your kids away from hunting.
TJ Williams has struck a pretty good balance on dove hunting. In the Mississippi Delta, there are plenty of doves. The opener features good weather, and because he can sit in a field and wait for doves to come past him, he minimizes long hikes that might tire out his sons, Lawson, age 6, and Cannon, age 4.
TJ, the marketing manager for Primos Hunting Calls down in Flora, Mississippi, emailed me these photos of his “dove killin’ and BB gun shootin'” dove opener earlier in the month. He takes his boys, and he makes sure they have fun by bringing BB guns and actively participating in the hunt.
I took his cue, and during a break from work last week, I took my own 8-year-old twins, Ellis and Merlin, to a neighbor’s field where doves fed into the evening.
Twins are competitive by nature, and the hunt soon become a contest to see who could reach the downed dove faster. The boys were tied most of the time, right behind my yellow Lab, Willow, who wasn’t about to let a kid deprive her of a September retrieve.