Paying it forward: The outdoorsman’s gift of giving

With this being the season of giving, I thought it would be a good chance to talk about how outdoorsman give the gift of education.

Sportsmen go through several stages of development in their outdoor lifestyles. For most, after years of success, the routine may become less stimulating. Some say when a sport is no longer exciting, you should quit or get a new one. I believe this is your signal to switch into teacher- or pass- it-on mode. If you really think about it, it’s not the sport you no longer enjoy, but the the lack of excitement created by something that once seem thrilling. By taking a new sportsman afield you are able to share in their excitement and enjoy being appreciated for your mentoring. For this reason I have taken a new hunter on the first day of bow, rifle and turkey season for the past five years.

I especially enjoy taking out parents and their children on the special youth hunts. For most, the first few hunts will be unsuccessful because of a lack in experience. Even worse, many of us will make a bad shot on our first hunts. Having an experienced hunter in tow offers a new hunter the benefit of a follow-up shooter. The method of tracking a hit animal can be passed on, along with the knowledge of when to back out if there is a chance the animals not down. The memories of past failures drive me to educate new sportsmen. As with most other aspects of life, it’s nice to prevent someone from making the same mistakes you have.

This season was my most successful as an outdoor mentor thus far. Three of my four students were able to harvest their first deer, the youngest with a bow in his first season. The other two are adult hunters, and harvested on their second season. It’s so rewarding to have someone call and thank you for your help when you weren’t even with them. Kody, the youth hunter, mentioned he would like to return the favor somehow. I informed him I would appreciate it if he could write about our meeting and his hunting experience. I was sent this wonderful letter and picture the day of his successful hunt and thought it should be shared with others.

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