In the past, I would end thoughts we shared on this page with the following:?"Take a child hunting or fishing for they are the future of the great outdoors.''
Those words are as true today as they were when I penned them more than 15 years ago.
As a proud father of three sons and one daughter, I have always made it a point that my children shared in all the great outdoors has to offer and I am equally proud that all are active in the same.
While each of my children either hunt or fish and some do both as much as possible, it wasn't like that when they where young. Back in the day, it would seem all I would do was ask and I had plenty of takers for an outdoor adventure.
In today's world of family and work, it seems that we all need to make an appointment to head into the woods. I am fortunate that they all live close enough and generally with a little planning we can make it out.
Over the last few months, I have been searching my aging mind for memories of each of my children's first fishing and/or hunting adventures. I can recall each moment I have shared with my children and the excitement in their eyes as they experienced landing their first fish or taking their first turkey or goose or deer.
As a New York state licensed guide, I have, over the years, been a part of other families' first success in the outdoors. From harvesting their first spring gobbler or catching their first perch to landing their first muskie, a first of any kind for youth is exciting, often times more so for me than the hunter or anglers.
New York State Youth Mentoring Weekend this year will be held Columbus Day weekend - Oct.12-14. There are a list of rules and regulations for this special hunt for 14- and 15-year-olds and it's very important that each adult and youth understand what the rules are. Taking and passing a New York hunting safety courses is a great place to start. While all youth hunters need to be licensed in New York during any season, the only way to do that is to take and pass a NYS hunting safety course.
From the distance a mentor needs to be from a young hunter to the number and species of deer that are legal to take, it's imperative that all laws are understood and followed.
For waterfowl hunters, New York also allows a special waterfowl season for youth ages 12-15 on Oct. 12-13. This special waterfowl weekend also has species rules and regulations and it's important that everybody know the laws before one heads into the field.
While the special youth weekends are a great idea, the mentors/adults take a big reasonability when we take young hunters into field. Often times we adults think that we need to make sure youth sees or get a chance at game. While that's great, it's more important that they have a good and safe time. Probably one of the most, if not the most important, thing adults can teach young hunters is the importance of conservation. With that being said, the laws that are in place are there to allow sportsmen to take part in hunting and fishing which will assure that the youth of today can share the joys of hunting with the next generation. That's how the tradition gets passed down.
As with most grandparents, I can't wait until the day when I can be the one that takes Jack and Sophia on their first hunt.
It doesn't take much for my mind to think about the days in the field with my own grandchildren, just as my father and grandfather did for me. When those days come, and I know from experience that it wouldn't be long, I just hope that they will have as much fun as their parents did. I also hope that I will be able to be the grandfather and mentor that they need and teach them all they would like to know.
Fortunately, New York has seen the light on introducing youth to the outdoors. In a world were today's youth are being pulled into dozen different directions, from soccer to football to softball to school and friends, it's important that the youth of today get an opportunity to spend time in the outdoors hunting and fishing.
Spending time with young hunters is an exciting time and offers learning experiences that will last a lifetime. Being a mentor to a young hunter is important and one of the most rewarding times any hunter can spend in the field.
If the good Lord is willing, I'll be able to introduce Sophia and Jack to the great world of hunting and fishing and pass on a tradition that their families have been apart of for generations on Youth Days.