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Youth Season to Remember!

Zach Scheidegger

My oldest son, father-in-law and I were able to experience a moment I will never forget this past youth season! Cole is 8 years old and was fortunate enough to harvest his second deer this season. Last year, he shot a buck and with the excitement of his first deer (and a buck at that), some of the opportunities I wanted to take advantage of were overshadowed by his excitement. With that said, both of us were elated, to say the least, and I wasn't about to interrupt that moment!

This past youth season, I had made up my mind that with the addition of the excitement for harvesting a deer, I also wanted to instill certain values that I as a hunter think are invaluable. Since Cole has been shooting a few years, he understands some of the basic gun safety rules, but we made sure to reinforce them while sighting in the rifle. With addition to getting some shooting practice before the hunt, I find this is a good opportunity to reinforce gun safety.

We once again were fortunate to have success on an evening hunt by harvesting a nice doe. Of course, there was once again excitement, but I wanted to make sure he was involved in every step and it was very reassuring to see his excitement and passion as the stages continued to unfold. He closely watched by holding a light and asking very appropriate questions as we field dressed the deer. When it came time to process the deer, he also took part in this step. The processing was also a very good learning experience because he was able to learn a lot about knife safety. This step concerned me a little bit, but since there were no distractions and grandpa and I were watching over him, he did just fine. He also learned different parts of the deer during the process—like steaks and loins. Cole has been eating deer sausage for years but he has never really experienced a steak or loin before. Since we had some fresh loin we decided to cook this for dinner. We actually cooked it for the entire family to eat and with two younger siblings, I wasn't sure what to expect. Cole helped prepare it, grill it and ultimately eat it! After dinner was said and done and two inner loins were no longer to be found, it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed his doe that he had harvested just days before.

While he might not have killed the biggest deer or even a buck, he realized that hunting is not about a score, it's about conservation and bringing something you harvest from field to table. To this dad, I couldn't be happier of how youth season turned out!