The month of October means the beginning of all those rifle deer hunts in various units throughout the state.
Arizona has numerous units which provide a juniors-only hunt that opens the week prior to the general deer season. These youngsters are 10 to 17 years old and have successfully taken the hunter safety course which allows them to enter the lottery draw for one of the many junior hunts.
The junior format encourages family camps which can create that quality time around the campfire with no television, Internet, and yes, maybe even the lack of cell phone service.
Some of these deer camps have been a multi-generational tradition among many of the longstanding Payson families. There is even a chance that a day or two of school might be missed, but hopefully the lessons learned in the field or around the campfire will have a long-lasting benefit.
There is no amount of money that can replace those campfire meals and the memories created surrounding a youngster’s first deer or maybe the one that got away. There is so much more than just placing a tag on an antler.
Hunting ethics can be learned, the appreciation of the outdoors, and family bonding can really happen on a junior hunt if parents spend the time.
Dave Daniels, a local Game and Fish officer and longtime resident of Payson stated it this way, “It was an absolute joy to spend five days camping with my boys and brother Derrick.”
With all the preseason scouting and target practice, a family can enjoy many weekend outings that again can add to that “quality time” phenomena which so many of the experts talk about in child rearing. Dads, remember to keep it fun and don’t be too focused on shooting the biggest deer!
That window of opportunity is but a few short years that go by so quickly, and those teachable moments are special when in the outdoors. Learning hunter ethics can best be taught by example and this will go a long ways in developing the true character of our future adults.
When the next youth hunting season is open for the drawing, I would encourage you to ask your children or grandchildren if they would like an opportunity to hunt big game in Arizona. It can be a special time for everyone involved and the memories created will last a lifetime. This weekend, enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.