Last Saturday I took sometime away from cleaning house and headed to the indoor bow range. When I arrived there was a grandfather and his grandson, one on each side of the range. As I was getting my bow out I could tell they were having a friendly competition. I set up in the middle of the range in between of the two of them. We were making small talk, and having the grandson there was great practice dealing with distractions while concentrating on my shots. He told me that his grandma had dropped him and his Papa off three hours ago, and she went on shopping. He had hoped his Papa hadn’t given her his credit card or she may not be coming back for them. The competition went on for about another half hour, when “Papa” had lost the competition and his arms were sore. I continued to shoot with the grandson for a while longer.
While we're shooting I asked him some questions to get to know him better. Come to find out he is 12 years old and has been shooting since he was three. His first bow came from Walmart and now he shoots a Diamond. He is active in 4-H archery and has a competition coming up next weekend. He and his Papa shoot together a lot, and they never cheat. I thought that was an interesting statement. He continued to tell me that the only person who ever really loses when cheating is the person who cheats. I totally agreed, I just wasn't expecting that statement coming from a 12 year old.
As we finished up we congratulated each other on good shooting and went to put our stuff away. He noticed that as I was putting my arrows away that I was checking the tips, he asked me if I have trouble with the tips loosening up, I said sometimes. He offered me his trick which is green locktite. This kid is 12 going on 30.
Papa soon came back into the range and introduced himself to me, followed closely with his grandson who apologize for not introducing himself earlier as he shook my hand. They asked me if I hunted, I explained how I have always rifle hunted and am new to archery. Papa and I exchanged some of our views back and forth for a few minutes when the grandson heard something that ignited a spark in him.
All of the sudden I felt like I was at hunting camp with him and his Papa. Last elk season was his first hunting trip with his Papa. I could tell from the beginning of this story that he has a bright future in hunting, he was very careful to not disclose the location of their hunt, he would only tell me that they were hunting on earth. Listening to him explain how close the elk were to them and how the bulls were reacting was priceless. He was cow calling for his Papa at his Papa’s command, but they just never could get the bulls to come out in the open. Each day they had walked in 4 miles to there spot, making sure to say hello at any trail cameras that they passed. They had came upon some tree stands but they were not there’s so they would not use them, he did however climb up a couple of ladder stands just to see the lay of the land. I don’t think that there were any details that he left out, but I was fine with that, seeing the excitement in his eyes warmed my heart.
Once he finished his story he told me that he was going to hunt elk next year and was going to kill his first one. Papa interrupted, he said remember that is not what hunting is about, if you are only doing it for the kill then you will get tired of it when you are not successful. It is about the entire experience. What the grandson told me next left me speechless. He told me that as hunters we need to be respectful of the animals that we hunt. We need to make responsible shots, and if for some reason the shot placement is off, for example if we hit the animal in the leg, we owe that animal the respect of tracking it and putting it out of it’s misery.
The words that this young man was speaking were those that I and all hunters should live by. Hearing them come out of the mouth of a 12 year old was unexpected for me, but encouraging too. It is obvious that this young man’s Papa is playing a huge roll in his life, and I am sure that being a part of 4-H archery is helping too. As hunters I feel like we are all responsible to teach our youth how to be respectful of animals and people and responsible for their actions. It is never to early or to late to teach these lessons.
Brooke Smith, Nature’s Paint Pro Staff