Stuart R. Goldsby, Hunter Education Coordinator

He worked hard to keep a roof over your head. He bought your books and sent you to school. He gave you your first gun, and took you hunting or fishing every chance he got to spend time just with you. He believed in the adage “Take your kids hunting and you won’t be hunting your kids.” That was years ago and now it’s your turn.

We may be talking about dad, but we could be talking about anyone who has mentored and provided us with an opportunity to enjoy hunting and other outdoor pursuits. There are plenty of granddads and moms who have introduced youngsters to hunting, but most children begin to hunt under the guidance of their father. We owe him everything and its time to start paying him back.

Why should you take dad hunting? Hunting with your dad keeps you involved in each other’s lives and allows you to spend quality time together. Life is way too short to let that opportunity pass. The benefit of a healthier and personally rewarding outdoor lifestyle is also a good reason to enjoy our hunting heritage. It is even more rewarding when it is enjoyed with the ones you love.

There is no such thing as a bad day of hunting. If there were, it would still be better than a good day at work. It is even better when you hunt with dad, and often. There are a few things that must be considered prior to hunting with your father. The most obvious consideration is his health. Hunting can be physically demanding and as he gets older we must be more aware of his limitations. A 75-year-old man may be capable of climbing a mountain or a tree stand, but he may not want to. Good planning of every hunting trip is important. Including everyone in the planning process increases the likelihood that all participants will have an enjoyable time. Whether planning an upland game bird hunt with lots of walking, a waterfowl hunt with big boots and cold, wet weather or a two-week Alaskan moose hunt with hours of travel and sleeping on the ground, let dad help in the planning. The planning process should begin well in advance. He will have time to make preparations for body and soul. Let’s face it, dad isn’t as young as he once was and he probably has a hard time admitting it.

Hunting is not a competitive sport. At this point in your hunting career, you have likely reached the sportsman stage where just being “out there” is sufficient gratification. Whenever you can put dad in the best position to be successful in the hunt, just do it. There can be nothing more satisfying or more rewarding than calling in a turkey for him, or letting him take first shot at a flock of geese over decoys, or putting him on a stand that is likely to produce a nice buck. In the excitement of the moment forget yourself and remember all the times he worked to put you first. Take in all the joy and reverence of the moment. It may be a fleeting moment in time for both of you but you can be sure it will be a moment not soon forgotten by either. Sharing it is a rare gift of life not to be taken lightly. Taking dad hunting is an opportunity that will not always be there. The more you take advantage of those opportunities the more stories you will be able to share with your kids when they come to you years from now and say “Hey dad, let’s go hunting.”

For more information regarding this subject or programs of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries please contact Stuart R. Goldsby at 256-737-8732, or at 1000 23rd Street S.W., Cullman, AL 35057.