Into the Fold

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

through the photo album with your kids. With small children, a photo album makes for great sharing at bedtime. Along with each photo, write a small summary of the hunt to read to your youngsters. They'll enjoy the stories.

This may seem unusual, but many children like watching game animals being cleaned. My kids were particularly fascinated with what turkeys held in their crops. For children, cleaning a turkey can serve as an interactive lesson in biology and nature. Let them watch if they are interested.

By age three or four, most kids are ready to accompany a parent on preseason scouting trips. It is important, however, to remember that the attention span of preschoolers is short, and they tire easily.

Therefore, these first scouting trips are best enjoyed from the comfort and convenience of a vehicle. At dawn, drive around and stop at spots from which you can easily hear turkeys. Listen to a few birds gobble. Maybe call up an owl.

To make these outings even more fun for a youngster, outfit your child in a set of his own camouflage clothing. Take along hot chocolate and donuts. The point of these outings is to make them fun for a kid.

Make these trips short, too. Even if a child says he wants to stay out longer, it's best to head home to save some enthusiasm for next time. When you get home, give your little one a big hug. Tell him how much you enjoyed his company.

Nurtured properly, most children by age 10 or 11 are ready for firearms training as their next step to becoming turkey hunters. Since most children this age are not big enough to handle a full-sized firearm, they'll do best with a youth model. Many are available, but a single-shot, .22-caliber rifle is ideal. Recoil and noise are mild, especially with .22 shorts, and rifle practice instills in a youngster that when hunting turkeys, he must aim a shotgun as if he were aiming a rifle.

Much patience and practice is needed during this stage. Children rarely become good shooters quickly. To keep things fun, make the shooting sessions short, have the targets close, and give plenty of praise for improvement, no matter how small.

Instead of always shooting at paper targets, set up a few aluminum cans for targets. A well-shaken, unopened can of soda makes a dramatic target that explodes when hit, as does an unopened can

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