I have been hunting over 20 years.  I have assisted many young and new hunters in taking their first whitetail, and probably just as many experienced hunters with another buck on their wall as well. Like everything else in this life of ours, things change.

When I finally became a license carrying hunter, I was 12 years old.  In the state of Pennsylvania, you were not permitted to hunt until you were 12.  It seemed like an eternity waiting for my 12th birthday.  But the day finally came and I was able to take the Hunter Safety course and get my first license. And I remember buying my first license like it was 10 minutes ago.

In my family, we would hunt small game, but the highlight was “Buck Season”.  My dad’s side of the family would journey to the mountains of Centre County. My mom’s side would travel to Cameron County.  I looked forward to this trip for years! After my first trip, I already thought of the next year as soon as I got home from this year’s trip.

When both families got home we would share trophies and stories, and in most cases the trophy was a spike. It took about 4 hours to get home, and when you stopped at a store and someone looked at your spike, you smiled from ear to ear. But those times have passed.

These days, TV hunting has changed many things. The kids no longer want a spike, they want 170 inches.  I’m not putting down TV hunting, because I don’t think anyone watches it more than I. But as a parent or mentor, we need to instill in our children and our new hunters that hunting isn’t about the antlers! It’s about the experience, the memories, family ties, and simply the beauty God has created our wilderness out to be.

I guess I’m two-faced. In Pennsylvania you are allowed to spot deer at night. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically taking a high power spotlight and looking in fields at deer, when it’s dark. Back to the two-faced comment. When I’m spotting with friends and family with some real experience in hunting, I’m salivating over the true monster bucks.  But when I’m with kids or new hunters, I put high emphasis on the bucks they can legally harvest. I want them to be excited about any buck or doe they can legally take. Their day of hunting trophies will come. But we all know kids lose interest quick. We have to keep the fire in them, they are the future of the greatest sport known to man!

So if you’re walking hand-in-hand with your youngster through the woods and a small buck gets up, don’t say “Deer! Oh, it’s just a three-point.” Make that small buck out to be a true trophy, as you would if the youngster shot it and it was laying in the back of your truck!

Hunt safe…but hunt hard!

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