My husband, Nathan, recently spent a Sunday afternoon at a local sporting goods store deciding which deer rifles would be best for each girl. He called me several times as we do before big purchases and said, “I think they can each hunt deer with these for the rest of their lives.”
It’s time to take newbies out on a hunt. The 2021 whitetail deer hunting season for young people runs from September 17-26 in North Dakota. Two new young deer hunters include Anika and Elizabeth Pinke who have been practicing their shooting in preparation. Photo taken September 10, 2021 near Aneta, North Dakota. Katie Pinke / Agweek
After sports training on a recent Friday night, we went to the farm for some marksmanship training with Nathan and their sniper Uncle Mike who had targets set and ready for training. Neither of our daughters has been a gun shooter in the past, but both have been active in 4-H archery for many years. Elizabeth has also participated in a national archery program in schools for the past two school years, which Anika will join this year. Archery experience has given our daughters some confidence to shoot their new stag rifles. Nathan explained later, as we had family dinner together at my parents’ farm, how each girl overcame her nerves and improved to hit the bull’s-eye several times. There will be one or two more target practice and then it will be their first season of young deer in the next few days.
I can list many other commitments we could use to justify not having time to teach our kids to hunt: elementary basketball games, college volleyball games, piano lessons, support group. , confirmation commitments to church, as well as the professional and family commitments of my husband and I.
Except that we are losing a generation of hunters, several generations maybe, if we don’t start to engage and have newbies hunted.
If hunting is not part of family traditions now, start a new hunting tradition as an annual family activity and shared experience. Prior to educating hunters and obtaining their first young deer licenses, the Pinke girls walked alongside family members in previous hunting seasons to learn more about the sport. Shown are Nathan, Elizabeth and Anika Pinke in November 2018. Katie Pinke / Agweek
Hunting is a way of life that I don’t want to lose. First, hunting is the management of wildlife. Hunting is our heritage. Hunting is a family tradition for many of us.
Don’t let a hunting lifestyle and tradition die with your generation. Continue to chase traditions with the next generation and lead by example.
It’s time to take newbies out on a hunt. Who took you hunting first? Like my grandfather, uncle, father and mother, we took my siblings and I hunting decades ago. I just walked for years and never hunted. I was there for the fresh air and the camaraderie. As an adult, I finally enrolled in a hunting education course alongside one of my children.
Did nobody take you hunting? Start a new family hunting tradition as an annual family activity and shared experience. Yes you can take a hunter education course like an adult. You and your spouse can participate together or as a whole family when your children are 11 years old in the calendar year or older. I married a pheasant hunter 15 years ago, and every year since he also hunts white-tailed deer. It is also not too late to develop what, where and how you hunt.
Keep children away from screens. Keep a few fall weekends open when you sign up for spring permits, and commit to hunting every fall or spring in whatever season you choose.
Hunting for waterfowl, pheasant, deer, elk, turkey, whatever you choose. Let’s change the trajectory of declining hunters and reconnect with family traditions and shared hunting experiences in the great outdoors with the permission of landowners or on public lands in our countryside.
Pinke is the publisher and CEO of Agweek. She can be reached at [email protected], or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.