Friday, February 3, 2012

Youth Waterfowl Day

Youth Waterfowl Day in North Carolina is a special day! It's the one sure way that we, the promoters of the sport, can ensure it's legacy. We have some incumbent duties, as elders, to take our kid, or some other kid. We absolutely must show them the proper ways of waterfowl hunting. We must let them carry the decoys and fall in the knee deep water. We must ensure that they have the correct shells and that we don't encourage skybusting. Too many teenager these days are getting into trouble by not getting in the woods. Still, some have raised eyebrows across the state by hunting - several have been caught hunting over bait and trespassing. In a greedy sport, it's on us to say "Hey, it's just a big deal." But that's tough to do.

Youth Day, though, is also a day when many tickets are written to adults for also being "greedy." Many adults have been caught hunting without a child on this weekend. The best way to have something eliminated is to ensure that it causes problems. Also, many adults will be ticketed for shooting cripples. First of all, adults cannot possess the gun. Ever. Second of all, let the child endure this responsibility. It teaches perseverance and sportsmanship. If the cripple isn't recovered, make certain that it is counted towards the bag limit. Odds are, you really don't need 15 coots, anyway. Or 6 buffleheads or 6 ruddy ducks.Third of all, it's just a big deal.

There are also tales of hunters who have shot "flying" cripples. I have heard this excuse from a horse's mouth. It's hunting out of season, setting a bad example, and showing your child that you will take care of all of their mistakes, whether legal, moral, or neither. It's just a freaking really is not that big of a deal. Personally, I enjoy seeing children shoot, then troubleshoot their shooting problems. It's the only way they will learn. And if you can't do that for them, well, then you don't deserve to teach them at all.

There are lot's of opportunities on Youth Waterfowl Day to locate a good place. Many impoundment owners in Hyde County offer youth hunting for free...all in conjunction with a Hunter's Helping Kids program. Locate the local chapter chair of this organization for details. Also, most state game lands are open for youth hunting on the Youth Waterfowl Day. However, these places are crowded and are often a great place to see bad sportsmanship. Currituck and Dare County duck clubs also offer youth hunting. You'd want to contact respective county for information...they may or may not know who to put you in touch with, but that's a good start. Pamlico County duck clubs also offer such hunting opportunities, so if you know someone from down there, it might be a good idea to call them. Also, calling the local NCWRC wildlife officer might lead to some good information.

Whatever you decide to do, please, PLEASE, make sure that first and foremost that the hunting opportunity is safe and ethically carried out. Limits can come any day, but they never come every day. Make sure that kids understand these things. Teach them to take responsible shots, too. Often, these shots are more responsible than the ones you have taken at birds. Take plenty of snacks and a change of clothes, just in case the inevitable happens. If the hunting gets slow, pick up and go...don't let boredom bring down a hunt. And after picking up...start a tradition - go for a biscuit at the local Heat-And-Eat. Upon returning home, encourage a little help cleaning up, then let naps rule the rest of the morning. Hunting is supposed to be easy and fun. Us adults take it far to serious sometimes - I can prove this by showing my credit card statement - it shows what I buy (gear) and when I buy it (coffee at 3:00am). Getting up early is part of the sport. But camping out at the boat ramp is ridiculous. After all, it's just a duck and it's no big deal. Unless it's a double-banded canvasback drake.

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