Starting Them Young
One weekend, my boyfriend Jordan and I decided to take his 5-year-old son, Aiden, quail hunting for his first time. We had recently bought him his first shotgun, a bolt-action .410, and he was really excited to go out and shoot it and hunt with us. I threw one of my Realtree hoodies and hats on him and he was ready to go.
Now before I get into the story of our little hunting adventure, let me just say that I'll be the first to admit that I've never been all that great at quail hunting. Growing up I remember getting scared when the quail would fly up right from under my feet, and I was never able to gain my composure back in time to actually get a shot off. Those of you who've hunted these birds know exactly what I'm talking about. So, I've never been the most successful quail hunter in the first place, but luckily my duck- and dove-hunting experience has helped a lot so I have gotten a little better.
Back to taking a 5-year-old on a quail hunt for his first time. He actually did surprisingly well. We saw a nice-sized covey of birds at the first spot we went to, and there he learned that Dad and Kayla were serious when they said “you have to be really super quiet while quail hunting.” Needless to say, that spot was unsuccessful for bagging birds, but we did push a lot around (I saved that spot for another day).
Aiden had been begging for it to snow all week, and it finally started snowing about an hour into our quail hunt. We got a little distracted from hunting since Aiden was excited to see snow fall from the sky for the first time, so I decided that would be a good time to take some pictures as well. It snowed for about an hour of our hunt, and after pushing the birds farther and farther, we decided to try a new spot. Although we didn't get to shoot any birds at the new spot, Aiden learned a lot about gun safety, and hunting strategies such as “step around the bush, don't jump in it,” “walk over the stick, instead of stomping on it,” “don't yell when you see birds, but point to them,” as you can imagine, the list goes on, and on and on. Then, Jordan showed Aiden how his gun works, and helped him shoot it for the first time at a standing target on a hillside. He only shot a couple times, but he did great listening to all of the gun-safety rules, and he had a blast shooting.
On to the next spot. The mountain is actually one of my deer-hunting spots, and I saw a ton of quail there this deer season, so I knew we would have a better chance there. We did a lot of hiking and Aiden was doing much better already about walking quietly and looking for birds. We finally found the covey of quail and it was a huge one. Everyone got excited and we started sneaking after them. We pushed them a few times without getting a successful shot off, but we finally got close enough and I hit one. We told Aiden, “Go Aiden! Go find where the quail landed! If you find it then it's yours!!!” He ran over, found it behind the rock it fell by, and held it up proudly with a huge smile on his face. He was so excited to finally get “his” first quail. He held it the whole rest of the hunt while talking about how soft it was, and explaining to me where on its body he thought I hit it with the bb's, and how “now we can go home and clean it and eat it for dinner.”
When it was time to cook up the quail, Aiden was eating it proudly with a smile on his face saying, “this is the quail I got! It tastes good!” as he chewed and kicked his feet under the dinner table in excitement. It was an awesome experience! I would trade a limit of quail for the opportunity to teach this 5-year-old boy the basics of hunting and gun safety any day. That is some quality family time if you ask me!
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