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My son Taylor is 6 and only has a little shooting experience. We take little trips w/ Pappy (father in law) to drop stuff off at our cabin, and on occasion spend an over-nighter.

He has been around "the guys" as we have shot guns at our little range and I even got him a little Bear Jr. longbow w/ practice arrows. Pappy got him a BB gun last year and he has tinkered around with it. So he knows a little "of" shooting, but not what hunting is truly about.

I thought about getting him a little .410ga and letting him shoot it and get use to it, and even perhaps take him out for a little squirrel hunting. But the downside is that I am so paranoid-and I don't want to make it not fun for him.

I am medically retired with Chronic PTSD from my last tour in Iraq, and it plays soo much into me holding him back because I don't think he is ready, or more-less I don't think that I am ready.

Like I said, I do not want to make it not fun for him, but I also know now is the time to try and instill the ethics, values and morals that my father showed me.

I see posts and pics here of kids with their parents and guns, bows and knives. And I truly want that not only for Taylor- not only for him, but for my other two sons as well.
And for them to enjoy time spent with me, in hopes that they will like hunting as much as I do, and we can have that common bond to share forever.

But it is soo hard for me to even think of them having a knife, let alone a gun. But on the other hand I had a little single shot .410 at 6yrs a .20ga at 8yrs then a single shot 12ga at 12. I just need some advice.. all that runs through my head is safety,safety,safety. Finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire, know your target and beyond, muzzle awareness... it goes on and on. And when I reflect on it, I shut down and tell the wife "he's not ready-I'm not ready".

I want them to understand the true spirit of hunting, and what taking game is all about.
I just don't want to miss a golden opportunity with my sons that I may regret forever.
 

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Syrric Take it slow . Take hime out to a range Buy you self and teatch him . He might just surprise you and taking it slow might help You . My Dad had PTSD from Vietnam . He was my best friend and we help etch other . As I got older I under stood what he was going though . Teatch him with the gun unloaded then eas him in to it . It will be good for you and him . I hope this helps .
 

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If you think he is mature enough, go for it. Personally I would go with a 20 ga. with low base shells, not much recoil, then you won't have to buy another shotgun, but that's up to you.
 

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Syric, I am 25 now, but I remember clear as day the first time my dad was taking me hunting with him. I was 5 years old, and we were going goose hunting on the eastern shore in md. I was not carrying a gun or anything of that nature, just tagging along.

From then on out, anytime my dad was going hunting, my brother and I shadowed him and tagged along. I am sure that my dad shot a lot less then he would have since my brother and i were loud and moved a lot.

When we were going scouting, i would carry the bb gun and pretend to shoot stuff. My brother was older than me, so i had to wait a few extra years to hunt then him. But when deer hunting, i would always sit with my father and partake in the hunt by observing the hunt. They would always let me shoot the guns at cans and things of that nature.

I could be wrong, but i think it is best to get your son involved as early as you can, and as often as you can. You should allready know if he is somewhat interested in wildlife, so use that as a gage as to how long you can sit in one spot. Squirrel hunting is by far the best way to introduce a young hunter to the sport. There is almost always action, so they dont get bored plus you can do a lot of walking around. Make sure you make it about him everytime you take him. So you might have some blown opportunities on big bucks or not get a chance at other game, but in the end, when you have him as a hunting buddy the rest of your life, the few years you gave up will be worth it in the end.
 

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The fact that you have these concerns about what is best for your sons, and how to best teach them, tells me you are probably more ready than you realize. Take it slow, do one step at a time, as you both are ready.
Maybe get in touch with a buddy that was downrange with you. Sometimes talking to someone who understands your concerns, and you, can really help.
Best of luck, and thanks for your service to our Country.
 

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Syrric,

First off ,THANK YOU so much for your service and sacrifice , your son has a hero for a Dad and i am sure he knows it.

Being your son is 6 you got time for both of you to get ready. Yes the mentor program has allowed for some accelration on things, and I utilized that with my then 10 year old and had the best hunting day of my life cause of it, BUT I also got a 6 year old son now too and he is not anywhere near ready for the responsibilty of taking a life or firing a hunting gun. He wants too more than anything (and get his pic on HPA
), way more than my other kids did, trust me there, but he isn't ready and no amount of begging will change that. I mean he still thinks his toy light sabre needs to go in the pack for the hunt as well...it is too early for him, Enjoy the heck out of the innocence, it is what you fought for over there, for all our kids innocence and freedoms. We don;t need to rush them to be grown up...grown up ain't that great.


I don't want to say other 6 year olds aren't ready, just that mine isn't. The nice thing is the freedom to choice the whens. You aren't alone and I'll stand by you all the way on this. It is OK to say "not yet" especailly if you got some things to work out too..It is OK, the critters aren't going anywhere, the woods aren't..you got time.

My plan for my 6 year old...I am going to get lil Joey in the woods as much as possible this year, work on getting him in love with the woods first. He is going to do some treestand time with me too but just to observe and chat away and have "man time" as he calls it,,,he won;t be handling any of the weapons, but it is all good, I still get to be the hero there.

You aren't missing any golden time just cause there is no gun ...trust me..Joey knows I own a hunting website and am thinking hunting every day of my life, he loves his camo and all...that is what is driving him so much to want to do it, but he is NOT ready, not even for a squirrel harvest, he just does not know what it is start to finish.

Get your boy out there...watch some leaves fall, find amazement and comedy in the squirrel and chippies running about....you will see him click over when he is ready to become hunter and has the understanding of it. If you see it this year then next year take the steps to prepare for the gun addition.

BTW, when you guys are ready, give me a hollar, I got a kid friendly place for that first hunt if it is needed. Heck ,we will proably be needing it the same year with our matching 6 year olds and it would be my honor to hunt with you guys .


God Bless, and thanks again for getting in harms way for my family.
 

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I would say take it slow and you know yourself and your son
better than anyone so you should decide if you think you
are ready to teach him about hunting. If he is mature and
can handle a 410 or .22 than get him one and take him out
squirrel hunting. Find a place before the season that has
oaks, hickories, or beech nuts and squirrels and take him
out and he'll have some fun. Over teaching safety is not a
bad thing and I commend you for wanting to do that. Start
off slow together, you'll know when he is ready for more. I
wish you all the best with your chronic PTSD and thank you
for your service!
 

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All great advice!!!....I started mine out when he was 4. I carried him most of the time. Took him out spotting, listening for gobblers in the spring and archery hunting. At five he would watch me shoot the .22, I would quiz him every time I would shoot on safety. I would let him show me what he learned with a BB gun(not loaded). Now @11 it is all engraved in his head on gun handling and safety. I still quiz him every time and probably always will.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Every post has been excellent, with positive feedback. I thank you all for taking time and reading this post.
 

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Maybe tonight when I can get back on photobucket I can share a photo...of a "trophy" Joey bagged this spring while we were out, knowing where some bucks rubs were I took Joey down a trail and told him to keep his eyes open for buck rubs as i sure would like to see one...I was in the lead, I remember walking by the first rub and holding my breath that he would find it...got about 3 steps past it and heard "DAD!! heres one!!....easiest trophy I ever drug out of the woods. I'll have to find that pic.

Lots you can do in the meantime..
 

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Its my pleasure to meet you and thank you for your service. I think Rooster said it best. When times are right it will happen. Enjoy the new things thru hie eys and you will be amazed at what we miss. They put a whole new perspective on things. Best of luck to you and your son.
 

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As many others have already said sir I want to thank you for protecting our country and our freedom as for the son you just take your time, in your post it kinda sounds like maybe your just not ready to hand him a weapon and Im sure that has alot to do with what YOU are personally going through but as others have said there are so many other memories you can make in the field with them at that age that you dont need to bag any game too have a great time..best of luck to you and you will know when it is time..
 

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Absolutely. There are soo many things I have seen/done and it all comes rushing back. I just want to pack the little ones in a protective bubble and guard them forever.

But I know that is not fair to them at all.
 

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Here is the pic I mentioned earlier...think it was March, no gun., no nothing other than that stick...a trophy moment of my year.




Ain't easy to tell that face he has to wait..but he does.
 

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Syrric, again, THANK YOU. My oldest is 6 now, and just started kindergarten. I'm taking it slow with him. Gun safety and awareness is NOT his strong point right now and getting his own gun is not on the radar yet. His papaw may get him a cricket this Christmas, and we'll continue working on gun handling but for right now my focus is getting him in the woods and learning ALL there is to know about it.

Be patient (i'm still working on this part) and he will let you know when he is ready for more. Nick is just now starting to point out game to me. I've been taking him out since last year during off season, and this year is the first year we actually have had guns afield when he comes. I'll take him small gaming and have a couple squirrel spots to take him. If he stays calm and shows promise, I might taking him out for turkeys too, on a private farm with no chance of other hunters.

Most of all, keep your focus on him, I KNOW it's hard. Get/keep in touch with some of your 'brothers' and let them help you thru the PTSD as well. It doesn't go away, but it does get easier.

Thanks for keeping our sport going too...we all need to do our part, one kid at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Those are awesome pics Rooster! I could just see my little one going all excited over something like that as well!

From the very bottom of my heart, you ALL are welcome. I had chosen to go back into the service, and chose to go over there so that my kids don't have to witness another 9/11. Yes it was a horrible tour of duty, and I still have my demons. It was tough watching them grow up over a webcam, and the cackle of static when they say "Daddy come home, stop marching.." but taking ahold of a little ones hand, or feeling them squeeze you around the neck...even a little smile, makes some of the bad things go away.

Patience is my downfall, and I try not to have my weaknesses overshadow what could be a good time with me and my sons but it is a work in progress.

Taylor(6yr old), is soo smart that it's amazing. But sometimes if something is too easy, he'll do a half/half job on it, and say it's lame. That get's me frustrated, but I just step back and like you all said put myself in his shoes.

He has been my little man, and at times I think put too much on him, but he takes everything in stride.

We were watching some videos of youth hunts on youtube yesterday, talking about safety, muzzle awareness, safety... and he asked when I got my first deer.

I told him and explained the story of a family tradition (that I am not sure I will have him repeat lol) but when your very first deer is taken, you gut it and keep the heart and liver. Check both of them over for spots, deformities and what not, then take a bite of the bottom tip of the heart, and thank the Earth Mother for the harvest. (My father is Hunkpapa Sioux from the Lakota band)
He hugged me and said "Dad, you can get sick from doing that now." I just laughed a little and told him he was exactly right.
But things have changed soo much from back then to now. I mean now you can get reported for drinking from a water hose it seems.

*sorry I got off track....*

I think I'll do more scouting with him, and pay more attention to his reaction to certain things. Then when squirrel season comes in, take him for more walks and try and remember to put myself in his shoes.

Thank you all for your positive responses and understanding. I was hesitant at first posting this, but now-honestly- I think it's one of the best things I could have done. Thank you all.
 

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To me this is why the site is here....put the interent to some good use.

The good folks are here Syrric...heck some are waiting for a chance like this to help a guy out.

Your son got great Dad,and you will look back sooner or later and wonder why you worried about it so much, but it is what hunting Dad's do ...I PROMISE, it just happens one day, and you got your hunter.
 

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...put myself in his shoes.
...remember to put myself in his shoes.
Just thought I'd repeat some great advice from yourself


I have three kids age 5, 2, and 7months. I also have two that are 24 and 22. During that gap of time between babies I learned a lot from mistakes I made with the older two as they were growing. Mistakes that I hope not to make with the younger kids. The most important of which is that I learned to look at situations from the child's perspective. They see things in a child's world, not an adults, and they need to deal with the situation as such. Sometimes it's hard to take on their point of view, but in my case I can use the experience from my older kids to help with the younger ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
...and the frustration sets in...

The wife is headed to Gander Mtn today after work to pick up a few items for me, and I told her to look into getting Taylor a new little camo bib overall set, and a orange vest/jacket and an orange hat, and a better pair of waterproof boots, if the clothing and stuff is reasonably priced.

Ok, all set, she then asked if it was for me taking him to Pappy's ground? Well yeah, that and there is the SGL 235 that is just a little north of Fort Loudon. I have been there a few times and it's a really nice place.

She kinda blew a gasket on me...by stating that if I want to go on our land (which is down in Bedford) then she has no problem with it, because it's private; but I am NOT taking him to a public area.

I told her that during deer rifle season, absolutely not, not on public ground. But I didn't see the problem with him going with me and shadowing me, while we take a stroll through the woods during squirrel season.

Her thing is, that on Pappy's ground it's fine...but to me I do not want to drive 2hrs away. Plus I don't want to do an over-nighter, I just want me and him to get out a little more and this is alot closer than driving over to Bedford.

She is always harping on me to bring him along more when me and Pappy head over to his ground, I just thought this would be closer and better.... guess that's what I get for thinkin'. <grumbles>
 

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lesson #1 learned - "yes dear" gets you MUCH further than trying to reason your way through it. and if you DON"T tell her where you are going, and she finds out where you went, then you say "I'm sorry dear, i messed up. I should have discussed this with you before we went, and it won't happen again. "

I'm still working on this last one LOL

Point is...they are her kids too. No matter how badly we want something for our kids, mom has to endorse it too. This is the ONLY reason Nick was allowed to go deer hunting last weekend with me. It was a private farm, permission only, and in the off season with red tags, and he had plenty of orange on. These things made it a little easier. Baby steps. she' seems to be cool with me taking Nick small gaming now too...maybe not on state game lands, but on our private farms instead. She understands that this is important to me, and I have had to have that conversation with her many times. Even to the point that I have had an almost ultimatum discussion on the statement "My boys WILL know how to handle a gun and shoot it well. That one will go to my grave with me." She may not endorse guns and hunting, but she knows how important it is to me and now she sees that the boys like it too.
 
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