Teach kids hunting at the appropriate age

Our two-generation-strong Pollick hunting clan just lately became three generations strong, since my three grandkids in North Carolina have successfully passed the state hunter-education course there and earned their certificates.

Their proud Dad, my son Andy, FaceTimed from their home in Asheville, N.C., so that the kids – Michael, 11, Patrick, 9, and Clare, 12 – could fill in Grandpa Frogs with the details. It was an emotional moment for me. It seems like yesterday that Andy, and then his brother, Aaron, each turned 9, earned a hunter education card, and began an ethical hunting career.

The kids now are card-carrying young hunters, and as experienced hunters too well know, their education and seasoning has just begun.

“The boys are brimming with hunting excitement,” Andy wrote me in a text. Clare, well, is thinking about it. Andy said that the boys also are excited about returning to Froggy Bottom here and building more “bunny houses” (brush piles).

Michael, my eldest grandson (there are 6-year-old twins in Colorado, too), will have the first opportunity to participate in the family camp.

“I told him that his next test is to shoot a six-inch group at 50 yards, or less. Less!”

And this: “There will be more learning for that kid when he gets to clean his first animal. If Michael can shoot a good group at 50 yards with his H&R 980 20 gauge, I am taking him to Ohio deer camp next year. Patrick can come in 2019.”

Andy noted “that was a tough test for Patrick to pass.” And that brings up a serious question about minimum ages and maturity for hunting.

I could not agree more heartily with Andy’s assessment and judgment. Please note, I depart widely from the all-too-prevailing, hurry-up permissiveness of over-eager parents – and clueless wildlife agencies. They encourage or allow kids just 4, 5, 6 years old to hunt and kill deer or turkeys or whatever. To me, putting a gun in the hands of mere babes is unethical and irresponsible, no matter how much supervision they have in the field.

Very young kids have no business doing anything more than tagging along, not pulling triggers. They are too immature to understand what they are doing. Hunting is a serious tradition and heavy responsibility, not a bag of candy from the quickie-mart. I have made my position clear on this many times, and I will not back down.

Well, enough. You get it. Or should. Or shame. Back to the celebration of a new generation, with a closing note from Andy:

“The hunter education instructor said to find an old, grumpy hunter to tell you stories and teach you about hunting. All three kids turned to me at the same time and exclaimed, as if they had discovered the Lost City of Atlantis, ‘Grandpa!'”

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