By John Potts (aka Crewchief 252)


I have been duck hunting seriously for going on 40 years now, but in the last 3 years things have really changed. I now have a 13-yr old son who loves to go, and when you go from hunter to mentor your priorities change as well. Something right away that has changed is how much gear I take on the hunt. Now on top of my shells and thermos, I'm carrying juice boxes, fruit roll ups, and once or twice even a game boy. Whatever it takes to keep them interested. Another thing that has changed is our trips don't always last as long as I had planned. But it's good to plan your time afield based on your child, the last thing you want is to burn them out so they associate hunting with boredom.

One thing we tend to forget now and then, is how tough it can be on kids. They are wearing more clothes than they are used to, trudging through weeds that are at times as tall as they are, or walking in swamps that swallow their feet. And to top it off, they are carrying a gun that is almost as big as they are. And I admit, every once in a while I start thinking maybe I shouldn't have bought him along? But luckily that usually only lasts a second or two, because he always has a big grin on his face, and that makes it all worth while.

A long time ago, I read an article similar to this in an outdoor magazine, and I always said I would try and keep this in mind when I have my own kids out there. I think back to when I was in the same position with my dad. He was always very understanding and my memories of hunting and fishing with my dad are some of my most treasured moments in my outdoor career. I want my son to have the same experience when he is my age. I'm very grateful my dad is still around and still hunting and fishing, so we have three generations hunting together. This is something maybe a lot of kids don't get to experience, so we are keeping many old traditions going and starting some new ones. When my son and I head out for a hunting or fishing trip, we always stop for donuts. Also a stop at Micky D's is fast becoming a traditional stop on the way home. The little guy can really pack it away.


I have found that watching him shoot is becoming a common practice as I find myself shooting less. And nothing beats the experience of how excited he gets when he is the first one to see a flock of ducks in the distance. During this off-season, he started learning to call. I gave him a wigeon whistle and let him go to town, and to be honest, he is already as good as his old man. And one thing I found we all have in common, no matter what our age or how long we have been at it, is the simplicity of a beautiful sunrise. When the suns breaks the horizon, we all stop for a minute in awe of what nature has to offer. You can't find that on TV, in the mall, or in the classroom; this is something that has to be shared and experienced to understand.

So, when your out there with the kids, remember how tough it can be for them, and keep them interested, they are the future of the sport.