Our families hang out together at least once a week; everything from BBQs to fishing to camping. The Friend is a great guy, but was never introduced to the outdoors as a kid. He was raised on the beaches of New Jersey so his orientation to the outdoors only revolves around that context.
Every year as hunting season rolls around and our families continue spending time together, The Hunting Partner and I almost always end up talking about, well, hunting. The Wife typically nudges me in an effort to make sure that The Friend isn’t left out of the conversation, which, unfortunately he usually is because he doesn’t hunt and hasn’t expressed an interest in learning.
About three weeks, I was at The Hunting Partner’s house placing the final touches on the boat blind when my cell phone rang. It was The Friend and the first words out of his mouth were, “Is a Remington 870 a good gun for duck hunting?”
I think my reaction was something like, “Huh?”
He proceeded to explain to me that he was at the sporting goods store, had already picked up some waders and wanted to know if this was the ‘right’ gun before he bought it.
“Uh, sure! It would be a great starter gun!”
We hung up, and the look on my face must have been priceless. The Hunting Partner immediately asked what was up, and I proceeded to tell him the gist of the brief conversation.
What I realized upon reflection was that those five years of stories, excited talk of great hunts, and photos afield that The Hunting Partner and I shared in front of The Friend had slowly imprinted in his mind and built his interest. My next thought was, “Oh dear God, I hope we didn’t screw him up…”
I’ve continued to talk with The Friend and counsel him on rounding out his basic gear - a jacket, gloves and hat, but told him not to go too crazy. Just the essentials for now. He and I also talked about ‘what comes next’ in him becoming a hunter. I gave him a hunter safety book and he is planning to take the test next week.
We’re also going to shoot some sporting clays tomorrow, which will be a good chance to introduce him to the gun. That’s right, he’s never shot a shotgun. He has fired a rifle and handgun, but never a shotgun. I’ve been rehearsing tomorrow’s conversation with him in my mind. My idea is that we take a good amount of time sitting and simply talking about the essentials of safety and how the gun works. I don’t want to insult is intelligence, but I’m also rabid about safety so I figure it’s worth the risk.
With those basics out of the way, I am at a bit of a loss on what to do next? With my own boy or other youths I’ve introduced to hunting, it seems much more natural because they are impressionable, highly teachable, and in The Boy’s case, it is part of the legacy I am instilling in him. But with my 40-something year old Friend I don’t know how to proceed.
Should I just start taking him on easy, late afternoon hunts on warm weather days (like I would The Boy) so that he gets plenty of positive experiences? Or should we just tell him that he’s a grown man and to saddle up and bring him on our usual hunts like this one or this one?
I’d love to hear from those of you who have either introduced an adult to hunting or have been introduced to hunting yourself. What worked, what didn’t? I take this rare opportunity as a privilege, and for gosh sakes, I don’t want to screw it up.