Hunting waterfowl is a time honored tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. There is something about passing the torch that was passed to me as a child. Over the years I have had multiple opportunities to facilitate youth hunts; however one hunt will always stand out.
I have known Benjamin through church where his grandfather is my pastor. He is a smart young man that is full of enthusiasm and drive, as well as being a follower of Christ. He loves the outdoors just as much as anyone, but hadn’t had the opportunity to hunt ducks. He is actually a talented fisherman, which he learned from his dad and granddad. Before the hunt I taught him about gun safety and the proper way to hold a shot gun. We spent many hours shooting clay targets that were set up at various distances and in the air. I was very impressed with how consistently accurate he was.
Around December the weather was finally right to hunt the “Honey Hole.” We slipped in before daylight with high hopes of him harvesting his first duck. As shooting time approached, the sky began to fill with ducks headed our way. Multiple groups of birds worked and worked, landing sporadically throughout the decoys. He kept saying, “look at all those ducks!” My heart was pounding with excitement, watching his exhilaration as well as anticipation. With the birds working into shooting range, the moment we had been waiting for finally came, with no help and a .410 gauge; he delivered a perfect shot on a gadwall drake. He turned to me grinning from ear to ear and said “I got that one!” Immediately shouts of joy rained out across the hole in celebration of Benjamin’s first duck! Matt Masters and I were overjoyed with the outcome of the hunt! It’s always exciting to fill limits, but seeing him shoot his first bird was worth more than filling any limit.
Out of all the years I have spent hunting waterfowl, nothing gives me more joy than the excitement that kids have when they harvest their first duck. Next time you have a chance to take a kid hunting remember, that they are the future of this time honored tradition and without them the tradition will slowly fade away.
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