People ask me when my husband and I plan to take our son Cooper, 3, hunting.
I fight the urge to burst out laughing, because it’s neither polite nor constructive.
Instead, the recollection part of my brain takes over, and I think back to 5:30 the evening before, when I pick Cooper up from daycare, or “school” as we like to call it.
Cooper helps Daddy broadcast seed for a food plot. Of course, some kind of stuffed animal is always in tow.
Here’s typically how our 8-minute ride home goes…
Me: What did you do at school today?
Cooper: I don’t remember. What’s that bird doing over there?
Me: What bird?
Cooper: That one flying. I bet it’s going home to his mommy and daddy. Or maybe McDonald’s. Do birds eat French fries?
Me: Some will, but…
Cooper: No they don’t. They eat seeds. We need to put seed in our feeders at home. Daddy and I need to. Hey, where’s Daddy? Is he home yet? I need to go potty.
Me: Can you wait until we get home?
Cooper: Can I have a treat when I get home? Daddy will give me a treat. I want a peppermint. Can I ride my bike when I get home? Will you ride with me? I need to put on my helmet. Hey, there’s a stop sign. S-T-O-P. That’s stop. You didn’t stop, Mommy. Why are stop signs red?
Cooper: Caleb pushed me down at school today. I fell on my hiney.
Me: Is your hiney OK?
Cooper: Ooooooooh, you said hiney! You’re a potty mouth!
You get the drift.
But what you don’t understand is that’s ONLY THE FIRST MINUTE.
I snap out of my glazed-over look and back into the present conversation. I politely answer, “When we feel he can sit still and be quiet long enough to really enjoy it.”
In the meantime, we take him to check trail cameras and food plots. Cooper “hunts” for feathers and acorns along the way. I’ve learned to bring along a small paper bag with a handle to tote out the treasures he finds.
We talk about hunting. And we answer a TON of questions…
Where are all the deer?
Do deer sleep in the woods?
Do they get scared at night?
Why did a turkey lose that feather?
Do turkeys have mommies and daddies?
What’s that noise?
Will that bird pick me up and take me away?
Why do you have a garden in the woods?
Why is it dead?
What’s that smell?
Why do animals poop in the woods instead of the potty?
Again, all in just the first few minutes. Now you understand why Cooper isn’t quite ready to hunt. But we’re holding out that the silence — necessary for hunting and our sanity — will come in the next few years, as will his desire to take part in the activity.
That’s the beauty of Families Afield. Ever heard of it? Basically, it’s an initiative began by the NWTF, National Shooting Sports Foundation and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance that pushes for parents, not politics to decide an appropriate hunting age for their children.
The rate we’re going, Cooper will be about 47.