Wichita, KS –-(Ammoland.com)- We've been blessed with lots of great stories from our time in the field with kids over the last 12+ years that we have been doing Outdoor Mentoring.
Here is today's story.
One of the great places we have been able to take kids hunting is the Z Bar Ranch, owned by Turner Enterprises. It’s over 42,000 acres in the Red Hills area of southcentral Kansas and truly a beautiful place to visit with stunning vistas and buttes, buffalo, deer, antelope, turkey, pheasants, and quail. Prairie dog towns dot the plains. It's just a wonderful place to go hunting and fishing.
After doing a presentation to the local Chisholm Trail Chapter of Safari Club International, I had a gentleman volunteer to help with the youth deer hunt. He said he had hunted just about everything there is to hunt all over the world. I’m told that his trophy room truly reflects that fact. He is known to his friends as either Doc or Ol’ Grizz.
When we hunt at the Z Bar, the usual plan is to get there a little after noon, allowing us time to check the zero on the rifles and to have the young hunters send enough lead downrange to insure that they can accurately hit their target. Keith Yearout, the ranch manager, has set up a 100-yard range for the kids to practice on when we hunt the ranch. For this particular trip, we also had Michael Pearce, outdoor writer for the Wichita Eagle, along. Michael is a great hand at helping first-time shooters get proficient in a hurry. And as it turned out, that was a good thing.
We paired Ol’ Grizz with first-time deer hunters Mike(another Mike) and Jacob
We start the young hunters off target shooting with a .22 rifle, teaching them the basics and letting them burn through as much ammo as they can. Practice makes perfect and we want them feeling confident that they can hit their target when they head to the blinds. When it was Jacob’s turn to shoot the .22 scoped rifle, he wasn't on paper at 25 yards. That was a BIG concern!
Michael stepped up and worked with Jacob, going over the basics of shooting, how to line up the target in the scope, discussed proper trigger pull and soon Jacob was consistently putting shots on target.
When they got to the blind later that afternoon, Ol’ Grizz had Jacob practice dry-firing the rifle while holding a steady aim at fence posts, trees and other targets. He would point out certain grasses and weeds and ask Jacob if he knew what kind they were. The answer was always, “No”. He would point to trees and ask if Jacob knew what kind of trees they were. Again, “No”. He would point out birds that were nearby and ask if Jacob knew what kind of bird they were. Once again, “No”.
As the hunt went on, Jacob had his opportunity to harvest a doe. He made a great shot, thanks to all of the mentoring from Michael and Ol’ Grizz. Jacob’s smile tells you everything you need to know about that hunt!
I got a call from Ol’ Grizz the Monday morning following the hunt.
Ol’ Grizz went on for over 45 minutes, telling me every detail of their hunt, hardly letting me get a word in at all. He expressed amazement at how any young man like Jacob could have so little knowledge of the outdoors, not knowing the different kinds of grasses and weeds or trees or birds. Sadly, that is more the norm than the exception in today’s world.
However, the excitement he felt from having spent the afternoon with Mike and Jacob was obvious.
He told me, “I have hunted pretty much everything there is to hunt, all over the world. That hunt with Mike and Jacob was the most enjoyable of them all!”
Being able to share his love of the outdoors, his knowledge of the plants and animals and to see the thrill of the hunt through the eyes of a young man experiencing it for the first time was more enjoyable than all of those trophy hunts he had experienced throughout his lifetime. That’s just one of the many rewards of mentoring a youngster in the great outdoors.
Today, there are too many young boys and girls like Jacob who have little or no exposure to the great outdoors. You can learn about the different kinds of grasses and weeds, trees and birds from books and online with the internet. But it just isn't the same as being able to get outdoors and to touch and feel and smell what it is you are studying. To experience it in its natural environment.
We need more folks like Mike, who stepped up as a mentor and took young Jacob under his wing and gave him the opportunity to experience the great outdoors. We need more folks like Michael, who shared his expertise and helped a young man develop their skills to be able to ethically harvest a nice doe. And we need more folks like Ol’ Grizz, who will share their love and knowledge of the outdoors with a youngster wanting to learn.
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About Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors
Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors is a Wichita, Kansas-based national organization dedicated to providing children with mentors who will share with them the experiences of traditional outdoor activities. The heart of the group’s mission is to give children opportunities to connect with nature that they more than likely won’t have without a mentor showing them the way. Partnering with organizations with like-minded conservation and youth participation efforts like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pheasants Forever, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Delta Waterfowl, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation, among others, volunteers with a passion for the outdoors can give a child the chance to go fish, hunt, or simply spend time in the fields with a caring adult. For more information about Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, please visit www.outdoormentors.org.