How To Inspire a Child Into the Wild By Ted Nugent
Apr 6, 2008 - 6:04:20 AM
My dad was a hunter when I was born in 1948. It was still a powerful,
natural, common sense, American way of life back then. Dad really
enjoyed his quiet, peaceful bowhunting time afield and made it a point
to share it with his family. He had quit gun hunting by the time I was
10 because of a terrible firearm accident that almost killed him. Some
dufus had touched off a round from his Winchester M94, 30-30 levergun,
while unloading it in the back seat of a '52 Ford coupe, and nearly took
my dad's head clean off. Another inch, and I would have been a single
parent kid. Mindless, idiotic NEGLIGENCE is still the only way to be
injured or die from a gun "accident". He stressed this to us, making it
a point to clearly differentiate accidents from negligence. I thank him
for that to this day.
But it was the adventure of our "Up North" family treks each fall that
fanned the flames of my predatory and conservation spirit. The big woods
of the North Country and the occasional sighting of all wildlife, small
and big game, especially the majestic, always elusive whitetail deer,
that brought me much adrenaline dumpage. Each sound, sight, smell and
feeling beyond the pavement zinged straight into my heart and soul. I
needed very little motivation from anyone or anything outside my own
interests in animals and habitat. The woods, rivers, fields, and the
wind called my name clearly.
Growing up along the wildground of the River Rouge outside Detroit, my
fascination with wildlife and hunting was something that could not be
defused. I was hooked. Something about the dynamic of each critter
encounter that drove me wild. The fact that my dad was already
experimenting with this brand new bowhunting concept was just an added
kicker. My river stalking days with slingshot and bow and arrow
imprinted deeply into my psyche from day one, and between my dad, uncles
John and Dick and Fred Bear, I had all the role modeling a kid could
It is interesting to note, that my brothers Jeff and John, and younger
sister Kathy, though a part of every hunting trip and outing, showed no
more than a passing interest in the sport. We all had grand times
together, learning about family camplife and nature lessons. But they
could, quite frankly, take it or leave it. Meanwhile, I breathed every
breath for a plunge into the wild at every opportunity. Everyday after
school, while the other kids were playing ballsports, tag, hide-n-seek
or so many other normal kid's games, I was stalking the riverbanks
trying to get close to pheasant, quail, ducks, squirrels, possum, coons,
skunks, rabbits, and all sorts of birds and other wildlife. There was a
marshy area at the riverbend we called Skunk Hollow. I knew every
wonderful mucky inch of the place.
Ted with a young Rocco building a future one hunt at a time.
So what is the difference between one kid and another, when all
experiences might be basically the same, that drives one to hunt but not
the other? Many moms and dads across the country have asked me how to
get their kids into hunting, and I can only tell them what my own
experiences have shown. Three of my very best hunting buddies are my daughter Sasha, now 34, sons, Toby 31 and 15 year old Rocco. They accompany me on many outings, and we have shared many a powerful moment together seeking game. There was no actual formula that I adhered to inspiring them to become hunters. Rather, it was a natural, instinctual process developed along the way in my parenthood that grew over time in order to optimize the chances that they would pursue this outdoor lifestyle with me that has brought me so much enjoyment, excitement, happiness and gratification, and thank God, success in steering them into the soul cleansing Spirit of the Wild.
All life comes from beyond the pavement, and our call to stewardship of these precious life giving renewable resources runs strong and deep. If a father fails to bring these lessons of reality and elements of accountability into
his family's life, what good has he accomplished?
Certainly, my exhilaration upon merely seeing game is contagious. I have
made it a point to raise my family on wonderful, game rich wildground,
thereby maximizing the sightings that can be shared and talked about
together. The first word out of my kid's mouths has always been "deer",
as they pointed out the window or along a trail together with mom and
dad. Watching wildlife shows on TV together as a family and exploring
easy access wildground as often as possible brings the dynamic of
wildlife encounters to the forefront of children's young minds. As
wildlife habitat faces the growing curse of development and destruction,
these beyond the pavement areas for introduction are becoming harder and
harder to find and access. This is why efforts and programs to save
wildground are so important today. JOIN SCI, NRA, NAHC, DU, RMEF, Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited, Quail Unlimited and any other organization you can
afford. Habitat protection, upgrade and access are vital for our future!
Most importantly, I did not push my children to hunt. I always made it
available to them, even gently prodding and encouraging them to join me
every time I went afield, but never to the point of force or pressure. I
shared the thrills of each and every hunt in stories and photos, and
made it a point to let them know every night at the dinner table, "you
should have been there! It was really cool!"
Over the years, I tried to get them to join me on the easier maneuvers.
Break them in gently. Comfortable temperatures and conditions were
always more alluring than stormy, wet, cold and nasty mornings in the
duckblind! But I did make it a point to let them experience the joys of
ma nature's wrath as well. There is nothing more wonderful than coming
back to a warm, cozy cabin or lodge or tent, wet, cold and beat,
changing into fresh, dry clothes and sipping a steaming bowl of soup or
chili around a roaring fireplace or campfire. That is heaven on earth
and everybody enjoys it immensely. They always gaze into the fire and
hear the call.
As my children grow up, they spend more and more time hunting with their
dear old dad. Toby and I have a duck opener ritual that means the world
to me. And Rocco and I try to sneak up the same ridge at daybreak every
September 15th, opening day of squirrel season. Toby loves packing into
elk camp, and the whole family looks forward to our bi-annual African
safari. I can't really enjoy a hunt for more than a week if my clan is
not with me. I feel unfulfilled and I get homesick for them.
I read a story in the American Airlines AMERICAN WAY magazine here years ago about a successful executive's attempt to connect with his son
by taking him on a hunting trip, much to the boy's protest. The old man
ended up arguing with his son, hunting alone, then opting to take a big
buck's photo instead of killing it, as if this merciful gesture would
somehow bring he and his son closer. BALDERDASH! It was even clearly
articulated in the story how overpopulated and destructive the deer were
in northern Illinois, the scene of the episode, and the desperate and
essential need to reduce the herd responsibly. It did fail miserably in
detailing the truth about habitat needs and carrying capacity, sustain yield, value through utility and the fundamental function of
man and beast, balancing their natural roles in the inescapable cycle of
life and death. His "non-consumptive" gesture was dishonest, irresponsible denial in action.
Contrary to this politically correct pap, bold, honest lessons in life's
cycle of reality will connect deeply with a young child. Be sure to read
the wildlife reports from scientific publications and note relative
observations when driving the highways. Roadkills are the ultimaste lesson. Watch the Discovery Channel nature specials together and never let fantasy or denial become acceptable. Point out the differences.
Show your love and passion for outdoor time, and it will be
contagious. I see it all the time, not only with young boys, but equally
with little girls too. Now that's a thrill!
If your kid spends more than 30 minutes a day in front of the TV set,
watching programs or playing zombie inducing video games, you are asking
for trouble. If you can't remember the last Saturday you took the family
to a wild place, early and long, you are asking for trouble. If you
can't talk with your kids because they have headphones glued to their
ears, you are out of their loop, and may I dare say, a failing parent.
If you don't have quality time discussing the little things in your
lives together at the dinner table each night, you are missing out on
one of the most powerful opportunities to connect that there is in life.
Hunting the fine State of Texas each year for many years, I have come to
greatly appreciate their laws encouraging parents to take young children
hunting. You see, Texas has the very best laws regarding minimum ages
for hunting. THERE IS NO MINIMUM AGE! It is a proven fact, that if a
child does not hunt by the time he is 9 or 10, it is unlikely that he or
she ever will pursue an outdoor life. That is catastrophic. Every year
in Texas, I meet families that enjoy hunting together with 4, 5 and 6
year olds, who kill deer with rifles at these young ages. No accidents.
No injuries. No problems. With a custom fitted .223, 6mm or .243, these
little whippersnappers take deer cleanly and regularly.
Just like the scientists and medical community now admit, responsible
parenting begins in the womb. Nightly bed songs, gentle readings, loving
talk from both parents and siblings, forms a prebirth bond that will
most certainly connect with this new life. It is never too early.
THERE IS NO GREATER RESPONSIBILITY THAN PARENTING! Period.
Immediately after birth, there is an initial explosion of brain
synapses. Synaptic connections continue powerfully through adolescence,
according to a recent study from the University of Chicago. The experts
generally agree, that if this initial touch is lost or not fully taken
advantage of, strong learning influences can be made up for later. Some
areas of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, where higher thought,
reasoning, judgment and motivation come from, will be best molded by a
parent's loving touch throughout adolescence. BUT, a really good parent
wouldn't miss out on any of these opportunities to provide the most
positive conditions possible for their child.
And according to this old dad, it never stops. The time to share the
excitement of the wild with your kids is NOW! The earlier, the better.
The most meaningful impact will be made in their first five years. My
mind burns with graphic excitement, envisioning my family's woodland
walks, riverbank picnics, sunrize celebrations and wildlife encounters
with bow and arrow or .22 rifle in hand. Be sure to make that extra
effort to conduct those ever so valuable wild lessons out there beyond
the pavement for the entire family as often as you can. Earmark special
weekends. Pack a lunch and a camera. Go slow. Take it all in. Nature
will do the rest.
Provide nature oriented toys and learning materials. Share your
enthusiasm for the wild. If you are going to rent videos, rent quality
hunting and wildlife tapes and watch along, reviewing the statements and
content for details and better understanding.
Other reports show how children who have had little or no meaningful
touch with mom and or dad, are much more likely to lead a life of crime,
substance abuse, unfulfilled sadness, and usually a horrible, tragic
early earth. To know the remedy for this tragedy, yet fail to respond,
is the worse sin of mankind.
The young mind you help guide to TRUE NORTH now, will be the warrior for
the wild, his or her entire life. I'll bet on it. And never let up.
With simple, good parenting, fueled by good old fashioned love and
affection, you will develop the greatest hunting partner you could ever
ask for. The wild needs the next generation, and the next generation
needs the wild. Strong and free.
SO TAKE A YOUNGSTER INTO THE WILD AS SOON AND AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN. GET 'EM SHOOTING, EXPLORING AND THROBBING. NOW!
Ted's Kamp For Kids shares and fosters a love and excitement for the outdoors.
To find out more about TED NUGENT KAMP FOR KIDS or to order Ted's books, "GOD, GUNS & ROCK-N-ROLL" KILL IT & GRILL IT" and BLOODTRAILS II-THE TRUTH ABOUT HUNTING" visit tednugent.com or call 800-343-4868.