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Season a time for bonding with children

By: Chuck Sanderson

As a young man spring always meant love was in the air. Teachers always seemed to dread the approach of the warm weather as the kids became more hyper and lovelorn. Now that I am a married man, spring means something else entirely.

For those who are on first names with Mr. Crappie know he has been making frequent introductions to the working end of a proper crappie rig for the last few weeks. Reports of slabs from Patman and Mercer Bayou over the last few weeks are rampant.

There are also those who long for the gobble at sunrise that gives away the location of Mr. Tom Turkey as he wakes on his roosting branch. Many times this week I have passed a truck on the local roads and seen a turkey hunter practicing their calls for the coming season.

This spring I have a special reason to celebrate. I am among those of you who heard their child ask to go hunting with their Daddy. I tried to contain myself as I let my daughter know she would be joining me on my trek to west Texas in pursuit of the Rio Grande Gobblers.

Her question brought me back to the first memories I have in the field with my Dad and Grandfather. The first was on a deserted strip of dirt road shooting a .410 shotgun at a rag target. Grandpa gave us the stern lecture on gun safety. My brother and I were both allowed to shoot the gun at the target. Looking back I know we probably couldn't have missed the rag laying over that fence from that range. But to a youngster, the experience was thrilling.

Back to present time and my daughter and I are on the back patio going over the finer points of a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. We cover all the safety issues and quiz her over the parts of the gun. Soon she is comfortable with the BB gun and we set up a target. After a few minutes of discussing how to line up the front post with the rear sight, she seems to get it. Five shots later, she is all smiles. She has kept all five shots inside a six inch circle. She feels comfortable and confident shooting BB's.

Over the next week, we will learn the safety concerns in handling a custom kid sized Chipmunk .22 caliber rifle. The gun is made for smaller frames and will have a red dot scope on the top of it.

States on both sides of State Line Avenue have early turkey seasons for the youth. Texas has a youth season for Rio Grande Turkeys, March 25 and 26, immediately preceding the main open date of the Rio season. Arkansas also has a youth season before their opener. Their youth season is the first Sat and Sun of April. While only youth can hunt during the special youth seasons, you can take them along for the entire season to hunt.

Why would anyone spend so much time teaching someone new? The statistics prove why it is so important to introduce youngsters to the wilds. If you were never introduced to fishing or hunting before you left high school, there is less than a 3 in 100 chance that you will ever become a hunter or angler. Nationally, nearly 80% of Americans approve of hunting and fishing or participate in these activities on an annual basis.

Whether this next weekend of turkey hunting with my special girl amounts to a picture of a tom turkey laying at her feet or just memories of what we saw, it will be a special event. I will always have the memories of our time together. I can only hope when I am a really old man and she has kids of her own, she remembers the trip as fondly as I do the trips outdoors with my Dad. During the last two conversations I have had with my Dad, we discussed those times in a farm field or in the woods on a mountain side. You know we both remember the details differently, but both enjoy the view. Do yourself and your child or grandchild a favor and get them in a boat and catch some fish or teach them the tricks to bagging a tom turkey. I promise you this. Neither of you will ever regret it.

Reprinted with permission from the author: Chuck Sanderson, Texarkana, TX