My son and I got up at 4:00am on Saturday and drove down to Eagle Bluffs along the Missouri River in Boone County for the first day of the two day Youth Duck Hunt in our area of Missouri. My son turns 16 on October 30, so this was his last chance to do the youth hunt.
We had with us a friend of my son's and his father as well as another friend of mine who is a trout biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, not to mention a waterfowl hunter of long experience.
My son was one of the last to draw for the choice hunting sites, but I think we ended up with the pick of the day. It was a little tough to walk into, and the slough we crossed had a mucky bottom, but we got set up and waited for 6:59am to roll around. We took the sound of shotguns all around as our cue, and the two boys went to work while the adults coached.
The teal were still in abundance, and the boys both took their limit (6). My son had 5 before the sun came over the horizon, and was in danger of getting his limit in the first half hour. The other boy was a little slower, but he caught up after sunrise. Both filled out their limit before 8:30am and we were off to breakfast (and the job of cleaning the catch once they got home).
The two young men were pumped, and if truth be told, their fathers were just as proud. The MDC biologist's son did his youth hunt a few years earlier and he welcomed the chance to help initiate more youth into the sport.
I have really appreciated the way hunting and shooting have worked in my boy's life, and the way we have been able to move our relationship into a different phase. In both hunting and trap competitions our kids, for the moment, are out there on an equal basis with the adults and are held to adult standards, and that has to be good for their development into adulthood. It certainly helps foster a sense of responsibility. And now he is an "adult" as far as the Missouri Department of Conservation is concerned because come this weekend he will have to buy a hunting license along with various options and Federal Duck Stamp.