November 2007
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground

There is definitely a chill on the horizon and it’s finally starting to feel like fall here in South Alabama. Bow season opens tomorrow and we know that’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from gun season for deer and sometimes that’s all that keeps us going in the hot months of July and August, the fair months of May and June and the so-so months of September and February and part of March.

If you’ve counted the months I just mentioned you will discover (assuming I haven’t left any out) the most miserable time is any month it’s not hunting season. At my age, the eve of hunting season is as exciting as Christmas Eve was when I was a child except now, I don’t have to deal with the whole Santa Claus issue, unless he has a big trophy whitetail hitched to his sleigh and then….. well, never mind.

Hopefully you hunters out there will be taking your children to the woods, some of you for the first time.

Having introduced my daughter at the tender age of 5 to deer hunting, I’ve learned a lot about taking children to the woods with you on a hunting trip. I am sure many of these tips and advice you’ve heard before, but I hope to have a few that maybe you haven’t.

Rule Number 1 – Take plenty of snacks that are low in sugar. A child in a shooting house is active enough; don’t pour gasoline on the fire and feed them a lot of sugar.

Rule Number 2 – For those of you with daughters, get mom to help out with some pre-season training, because, as my daughter knows, if you can’t potty in the woods, then you can’t go hunting.

Rule Number 3 – Take along plenty of paper, pencils and crayons.

Rule Number 4 – (Pre-season) Work on whispering skills.

Rule Number 5 – Get it out of your head the backpack you take for the snacks, art supplies and books will be camo. If you start training early, you can make it to where your children think all backpacks come in camo, otherwise, learn to live with Sponge Bob.

Rule Number 6 – As soon as possible, teach your children to read; not only will the school system thank you, but also you won’t have to haul art supplies with you to the woods.

Rule Number 7 – Work on whispering skills some more.

Rule Number 8 – Give up on getting that once in a lifetime buck when your kids are with you, it just ain’t gonna happen and if it does, the poor old buck was probably fixing to lay down in front of you and die anyway. Anything that deaf, blind and senile to come into a food plot with a frustrated hunter and their small child, has one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel anyway. So if it happens, there’s probably something wrong with the deer.

Rule Number 9 – Spending time in the woods with your children is a whole lot better than killing a once in a lifetime buck anyway.

Rule Number 10 – If you go to New York City two or three days after your child kills their first deer, after you leave Atlanta, people won’t be too impressed. (I learned that one the hard way.)

Rule Number 11 – (Seriously now!) When your child is old enough to shoot their first deer, consider a muzzleloader. My daughter cringes at the idea of shooting her .410 shotgun, but she considers my .45 cal. muzzleloader her own personal deer rifle.

Rule Number 12 – Bambi is a make-believe story, deer can’t think, talk or have friends. We are at the top of the food chain, get used to it.

Rule number 13 – Talk your spouse into having several children; that way when you buy camo clothing for the first one, you are set for several years as they outgrow it during the hunting season. You’ll only have to buy a complete set for the first one, the next ten or twelve kids will be able to wear the hand-me-downs. When you think about the fact that camo is only used about 3 months of the year, it could last until you have grandkids and then you’ll be doing your children a favor by saving them money. (What a good Dad!) Hint on rule 13, it will take a lot of convincing of your spouse; use diamonds and candy.

Rule Number 14 – Teach your child the following- What happens at the hunting camp, stays at the hunting camp. What mamma doesn’t know won’t hurt her. This is in regard to the use of deodorant, toothbrushes and changing your underwear.

Rule Number 15 – Remember that children never learn rule 14.

I hope you have a happy, fun and SAFE hunting season this year and remember rule number 9.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.