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Hunting with DadPosted Thursday, October 16, 2008, at 8:26 AM
The excitement was more than my six-year-old mind could take. Dad woke me early; the sun hadn't yet graced our Madison county acres.
Dad gave me a talk about being quiet. The goal was to get out in our woods and sight the squirrels before they sighted us. I had to be quiet, he said.
We walked as silently as I could through the woods.
Well, the morning light came creeping in and as I tromped through the forest next to my dad, I saw a squirrel perched on a limb up ahead of us. Instead of tugging on his shirt or sending over a whisper, the excitement got the better of me.
"Shoot him, Daddy, shoot him!" I hollered out.
Unfortunately the squirrel heard me loud and clear and beat it before dad could even raise his gun.
The good thing was that instead of being upset that I'd ruined his chances at getting that squirrel, my dad reveled in the fact that I was having a good time with him out in our woods. This was the first of many hunting trips he let me tag along on and one story he's never tired of telling.
The Missouri Department of Conservation recognizes that hunters love to pass on their love of nature and knowledge of their sport to others, whether to their children, friends or coworkers. Because of this, they've opened up opportunities to expose non-hunters to the sport in the 2008 deer and turkey seasons.
One of the important Missouri Department of Conservation changes in deer and turkey hunting for the 2008 season involves making more mentoring options available. The great thing about these mentoring opportunities is they're not just for getting your children out into nature. There are a lot of hunters who would like the chance to introduce their spouses or friends to hunting before they invest time in taking a hunter education course.
Now the department allows hunters age 16 and older who are not hunter-education certified to hunt with firearms, as long as they:
· Purchase the new Apprentice Hunter Authorization for $10
· Purchase a firearms hunting permit for the season they want to hunt
· Hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is hunter-education certified. The mentor must have a filled or unfilled permit for the prescribed season.
Also, an extra weekend in January has been added to the youth portion of the firearms deer hunting season. Youth ages 6 to 15 may take deer according to the permits they hold, though there is no minimum age for resident landowner youth hunting on their own property and for lessee youth hunting on leased land they live on. The extra weekend is Jan. 3-4, 2009.
Resident permits are also available for qualifying nonresident disabled veterans. This is an added benefit for disabled veterans who wish to hunt while visiting with family or friends in Missouri.
The basis for the above changes is to open up the sport of hunting to those who otherwise may not have ever taken the opportunity to stifle their excitement when they see their first turkey, deer or squirrel out in the woods.
As an adult, my hunting skills are dusty, but my dad gave me a basic understanding of our connection to the land and our Missouri heritage that still benefits me today. I wouldn't trade my 'hunting with dad' memories for anything, and who knows, we might just make another one soon and knock the dust off.
These are just highlights of changes for the 2008 fall turkey and deer hunting seasons. For complete information, go to www.mdc.mo.gov or ask your local MDC employee for a 2008 Fall Deer and Turkey hunting guide.
Candice Davis is the Media Specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation's Southeast and Ozark regions. Though raised to appreciate the Missouri outdoors, Candice is discovering nature on a new and exciting level as she gets up close and personal with snakes, insects, and Southeast Missouri's diverse landscape. Her goal is to share her learning experiences and show Southeast Missourians how they're directly connected to their land.