Passing it on

on March 11, 2020

By Jake Roberson

When I think about a juvenile hunt I think about young men/women learning and seeing what the outdoors has to offer. I think about the smiles and laughs they share with their mentors. I think about the joy and excitement that the mentors express when they don’t even have a gun in their hands. This hunt was a perfect example me. It was February 9th, 2019. As many duck hunters know it was a warm and wet year, duck populations along the Mississippi flyway were spread out because the water was out all year. As I was planning for this hunt weeks in advance I had no kids to could take, no birds in the area and no end in sight to the rising waters.

Two nights before the hunt the winds shifted to the north, the river was dropping and I found 4 young men that wanted to go hunting. The day before the hunt I went to put out decoys, and boy was I in for a surprise. At that time we were hunting in West Tennessee near the city of Halls. As I drove down the highway with water still up to both sides of the road I saw thousands and thousands of new birds sitting in our field. I couldn’t help but think it was meant to be for the youth. I set up decoys and watched as the waves of ducks left our field, circled and came back. I had never been more excited for a hunt. This was the first time I had ever been in charge of the hunt, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Not only for myself, but I didn’t want the kids to be disappointed.

The next morning came and it was time. As we drove the boat into the field we could hear the mallards quacking and the pintails whistling. The kids looked all struck as they looked at their dads. The dads just looked at me and smiled. As the sun rose over the bluff we all realized we were in for something special. All the kids aged from 8 to 12 and they shot like veteran hunters. They killed their limits by 9:15. All 4 had shot their first species of duck, 3 pintails and a canvasback, which of course was going to the taxidermist. After the shooting was over we sat in the blind. We just talked and laughed about what just happened. I think my favorite part of the day was just getting to teach the young men what it's all about. How to call the birds on the swing, how to have the patience for the one more pass and most of all how to have fun.