Bill McKinley was just a few days shy of an election, yet he made time to take his grandson squirrel hunting. Granddad and grandson had a great morning in the woods, with the youngster taking two squirrels and missing one. “I killed a deer last year,” he said, “but I think I like this better.  It’s more fun.”

Last evening, I had dinner with a young couple who was recently married. Greg Wilson convinced his new bride to join him in a tree stand before dinner. “How was it?” I asked when they showed up at the restaurant.

“Boring,” said the young woman.  “The deer didn’t show up until dark.”

The Fun Factor

Squirrels are a great step to a hunter’s first deer.

Most hunters are passionate about their sport, yet passing that excitement along to prospective outdoor people can be difficult. As hunters, we know the importance of spending time in the woods, being quiet, and being still, because we realize the great payoff these learned behaviors create.  However, for new hunters, these attributes translate to sitting on the bench instead of playing in the game.

Create excitement for new hunters by keeping things active. Shooting a bow or airgun at balloons and tin cans is lots of fun and can be safely done in most backyards.  If you step up to rimfire ammo, have them shoot at soda cans filled with water, and see their eyes pop as the hydraulic effect of a hit makes the can explode.

Small Game for Starters

Winter break is just around the corner for many students. Whether they are in grade school or college, planning a hunting trip together is a great bonding experience. Don’t fret that most deer seasons are over since squirrels and rabbit seasons are often available.

An airgun, .22 rifle, or .410 shotgun makes a great holiday gift and you’ll have all day to try them out. Skip the 4 a.m. wake-up and opt for a hunt on a sunny afternoon. These low-pressure outings are the perfect opportunities to talk about firearm safety and how hunting affects conservation. When introducing new members to hunting, think small, active, and fun. Give them a good start, and their world will change forever.