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The Next Generation

­By Tom Lester

with_fish.jpgEvery year when the whitetail deer hunting season comes to an end, I immediately start looking forward to the next. At no other time has this been more apparent. My son turns 10, and will be able to hunt whitetail deer with me for the first time. I have been waiting to pass down our hunting tradition to the next generation for a long time.

When my son asked if he could hunt with us this year, I was very excited. Last year he wanted to go scouting more than ever. He also was more interested in looking at trail camera pictures. When he asked for his own trail camera, I knew he would be my hunting partner. Last year he even sat in a box blind with me a couple of days. The sight of deer coming into the field, and right in front of us got him very excited.

My biggest concern is his safety. We have already started talking about what he needs to do to become a safe hunter. His first gun is the next decision that had to be made. The area where we hunt whitetails is a shotgun zone. After a lot of thought I have decided a Thompson Center Encore with a 20 gauge rifled slug barrel would be best. Since it is a single shot, I felt it would be safer for a new hunter.

playing_games.jpgLike most children these days my son loves to play video games. Keeping the next generation interested is important, or they will get bored quickly. So I have to find a stand location for him, where there will be a lot of action. This will help him keep his interest, and put him on the path to becoming a hunter and outdoor enthusiast.

Our hunting group only harvests does and mature bucks. I have talked to my son about why we prefer to do this. He understands if you shoot a lot of younger bucks there will not be many older bucks. Even though I really believe in this practice, I will not tell a young hunter what he can shoot. My son knows he can harvest any whitetail deer he chooses.

Justins_Buck_1a.jpgWe have gotten pictures of a nice 3 ½ year old 10 pointer with his trail camera last year. This buck will be a great buck, no matter how old you are, or how many bucks you have harvested. For a first buck, especially for a young hunter, he will be an incredible buck. All of my planning will try and put him in position to get an opportunity at this buck.

For the first time the success of my hunting season will not be about whether I harvest a mature whitetail or not. No my success will depend if I do a good job passing our hunting tradition down to the next generation. This will not be about whether my son harvests a whitetail or not, but about the experiences he has. I just hope that I teach my son as well as my Dad taught me, and he grows up with the same passion we have for mature whitetail deer.

Tom Lester