December 2009
Howle's Hints

A December to Remember


Spend plenty of time familiarizing the youth with the firearm before going afield.

Mark Twain once said, "History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme." I’ve heard many people relate the country’s recent economic status to financial hard times of the depression even though this recent "recession" is said to be not as severe. I guess it depends on your perspective. If you are unemployed right now or earning very little for your farm products, this one’s pretty severe.

With Christmas on the horizon, we can expect to see children’s gifts downsized as the government becomes supersized. A gentleman in my Sunday school class recently observed there seemed to be a boom in young couples expecting babies. The only cause we could come up with was the lack of money was causing people to stay at home and entertain themselves.

Christmas time during the Great Depression meant, if you were lucky, you might get fresh fruit like apples, oranges and some candy in your stocking. If you were well off, your child might also get a doll or a toy truck made by hand or made in America. Today’s children can expect to receive cheap, plastic items shipped directly from China, and the fruit in today’s stockings might not come from American farmers, who ironically produce the world’s safest food.

As people tighten their financial belts this Christmas, one good thing that may come out of this financial debacle is people may once again realize why we Americans and Alabamians celebrate this time of year, and we may also receive some blessings simply by spending quality time with our family and friends.

Buy American

When is the last time you heard that slogan? When was the last time you could buy American if you wanted to? You can still buy American, but it takes some research. For instance, if your youngster or grandchild is at the age he or she has shown responsibility and proper gun safety, it may be time to invest in a quality, American-made firearm. The Henry Rifle Company has a slogan saying, "Made in America and Priced Right." Those are two qualities we really need right now.

The Henry Mini Bolt comes in black and orange colors.


The Henry Mini Bolt Youth Rifle is my all-time favorite starter gun for youngsters. It can shoot .22 short or .22 long rifle cartridges. It is a simple, bolt-action .22 with a short length, and it is lightweight so youngsters can carry it with ease on long squirrel hunts. In addition, right out of the box, the rifle is pin-point accurate. At our family farm in Cleburne County, I took the Mini Bolt on a squirrel hunt before giving it to my son, and the fiber optic sights resulted in no misses even on the long shots at tree top squirrels.

The Mini Bolt comes in two colors-black or orange. The U.S.A. Olympic Shooting Team was so impressed by its kid-friendly performance and accuracy they named it the Official Youth Rifle of their program. For more information, visit

Spend More Time Than Money


Jake Howle shows off a squirrel he shot with the Henry Mini Bolt Youth Rifle.

Buying a firearm for a youngster is great, but it doesn’t take the place of the time actually spent together on the shooting range or on the hunt. The crucial time is spent educating the child on firearm safety before giving them a gun. It’s best to have a youngster practice with a toy gun before getting a real one. The most important commandment of the 10 commandments of hunter safety is, "Always keep the muzzle of the firearm pointed in a safe direction." That safe direction is toward the ground unless shooting. Even if the firearm goes off accidentally, the only thing the young hunter will shoot will be the ground. The best listing I’ve found for the 10 commandments of hunter safety can be found at Click on safety and 10 commandments of hunter safety.

What to hunt

Sometimes it’s best to let the child dictate what game will be hunted. If the youngster is new to hunting, a four-hour sit in a hunting blind or a gun with enough recoil to knock fillings loose might turn the child off to hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of the most practical youth hunts because the hunt often involves action, talking, walking and a strong chance to actually harvest game. The youth will often let you know when he or she is ready to progress to larger game requiring patience like deer hunting.

When I’m in doubt about child-rearing issues, I consult the Bible. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Keep in mind, the verse doesn’t say, "Train up a child in the way we think they should go." Each child is given a purpose, plan and time at which things will progress naturally. The main thing is to have patience as the youngster learns woods wisdom skills.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.