The New York Times last week on it's parenting blog had a post by a transplanted mom titled A Park Slope Mom Raises a Hunter. I have to assume Park Slope is where Zsa Zsa Gabor of Green Acres fame came from, or if not there someplace within cab hailing distance.
Actually the story was kind of fun and kind of familiar. "Foodie moves upstate and takes a different look at hunting", in a nutshell.
Reading it I was reminded of a post I read by a Kossack a while ago whose son wanted to take up hunting with a school friend and his dad. It's not unusual now for the sons and daughters of non hunting non gun owning parents to want to hunt. I thought I'd jot down some ideas I had on the subject.
My daughter helps by holding a leg. Hunting and cutting up critters are very normal to young kids. It is after all the way we lived ever since coming down out of the trees. Notice all the camo everyone is wearing?
Hunting is not a simple quick or easy undertaking, especially if it's not something one has grown up with. Often mischaracterized as easy, often enough by those who tried and found it too hard, hunting takes a fair sized commitment of time. Think in years not hours.
One of the first hurdles is how to gain the knowledge of the very basics. Where to go? When? How do you turn a dead critter into wrapped packages in the freezer? The answers to most questions are fairly straightforward and sensible, but not if you don't know, and all situations are different.
Most important is a mentor. In the case of the linked article as well as the post by the fellow Kossackian they already had someone ready to act as a guide. The first mentor might well not be your ultimate one, but it's a start. Waterfowl or upland birds, big game or rabbits, there are quite a few types of hunting, and there are any number of ways of going about it.
Ignore politics. Most hunters (but not all) trend towards the R side of the political spectrum, also like about 90% of the public they really aren't political at all, that's just the team they happened to join because it's what you do where they come from. Chances are pretty good they won't discuss politics much, or religion, or sexual preference or any one of many touchy subjects. Probably a good idea all around.
Take a hunter safety course. Take it with your kid, there will be many other parents in there doing the same. Hunter safety is usually taught by some of the most knowledgeable hunters in your state. If your kid is old enough to go hunting, he or she is old enough not to be embarrassed appearing with a middle aged non hunting mom or dad in public. The courses are almost free, usually ten or so dollars for ten or twelve hours. Much of the costs are covered by a tax all shooters pay. Take it twice, or five times from different people. Courses cover all the laws, all different types of firearms, safety, and many practical considerations.
Hunting is pretty safe. I read anecdotal fear mongering stories of accidents and fatalities, but back in the fact based world of statistics hunting fatalities due to firearms are so rare I've never found statistics for them. The CDC tells me maybe 200 accidental fatalities for firearms outside the home per year. Of those 200 a tiny fraction are probably from hunting. Over the next couple months around 13 million Americans will be out hunting, mostly with much larger caliber firearms than ARs or AKs, yet we manage not to shoot each other. It didn't used to be this way.
Hunter safety which all hunters have to take instills a culture of safety which sticks with most people forever. It's fairly obvious that unlike TV and movies, firearms really are potentially lethal, most people get that. There's an untrue stereotype of drunken hunters with firearms that just doesn't jive with what I see day in day out. The dangerous part is the drive to get there.
I've already run my mouth enough, paragraphs stretch down the page. Last thing I'll mention is that gun. In the NYT article the mom mentions her son might get a 22 for Christmas. Guns are a lot of fun, they are a precision tool and an integral part of hunting, but even more important is the knowledge that comes from being skillful at shooting. I hope that Park Slope mom's son shoots thousands of rounds through that 22, and that he has a safe place to shoot it.
Long zoom, small sensor, hand held. These speed goats are a long ways away.