by Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
I remember the first deer I shot. I remember exactly where I was standing. I remember what it looked like when I tightened the gun up to my cheek and peered down the scope of my brother’s 30-30.
My first duck was a hen mallard that whistled across the slough and came a little too close to the borrowed 20 gauge I had shouldered. Or at least that’s what the guys told me. In reality, it was probably knocked down by one of the other shooters who’d taken aim while I flung my pellets a good 20 feet behind. But the family that I grew up hunting with understood the importance of passing on the tradition and backed my story. Plus I talked louder.
With the youth seasons upon us, memories have been flooding back. There is some definite jealousy as well. Last fall we took my friend Ron’s daughter Shay out for the waterfowl opener and she shot a limit of ducks. Took me 10 years to do that. Yesterday my phone vibrated with an incoming text message. That message included a picture her first deer, at age 12.
Not long after that my phone vibrated again. This time the photo revealed a bright shiny smile from my 12-year-old nephew Danny, proudly holding his first rifle. He’d been saving up and purchased it himself. I don’t know which will make his dad prouder, the purchase or the first deer he’ll harvest with it.
This weekend Facebook was littered with photos of kids and their first experiences. The various enforcement organizations in the region do a great job trying to introduce kids into the outdoors with special youth seasons, and I’m glad to see people take advantage of it. No one needs to hear me espouse the virtues of introducing the next generation to the outdoors. We all know what’s at stake. Besides it makes it easier for you to leave for the woods every weekend if you’re bringing the family with.
I was hooked the moment I shot my first goose. I remember watching the flock coming towards us as I crouched behind a small pine. At the last minute they flared slightly and my recent hunter certification training had me worried about the range. The last bird in the escaping v swung just close enough that I was comfortable taking the shot. It was the only shot I had. I squeezed the trigger and watched the beautiful bird fold up like a card table. I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down a few times and may have let out some sort of 13-year-old scream that probably sounded like a giggly cheerleader. Don’t judge. I was 13.
Take a kid hunting or fishing. Try to make it easy for them, make it fun and let them pull the trigger. Or at least let them take the credit and they’ll be in it for a lifetime. Then you’ll always have someone who can clean the birds for you.
Please post pictures of your “firsts” on our Facebook page. Or pictures of your kids and their “firsts” and then share it with your friends.
Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
Next weekend the radio show expands! “Stay tuned” for more info…