Skip to main content

Fanning The Fire

Fanning The Fire

When kids are too proud to be carried, offer them a piggyback ride.



My nephew Randall Lasar and I celebrate the taking of this doe. In order to protect bowhunting for future generations, we need to involve our youth


in outdoor activities.

"Uncle Steve!" the boy shouted, jabbing a trembling finger at the deer 12 feet away. The little guy was breathing hard and was about to bellow again, so I reached down, tapped his shoulder, and winked when he looked up at me.


I was very proud of him. A dedicated and enthusiastic chatterbox, Randall had managed to keep quiet for almost 45 minutes, long enough for him to get an eyeball full of the results of a deer push. That was pretty good for a 3 1/2-year-old.

The morning had started on a frustrating note for me. Wind direction was exactly opposite of what had been forecast, and when I climbed into my treestand before dawn, I could tell I was wasting my time. A heavily used trail ran 15 yards out in front of me, and my scent stream was aimed directly at it. I've gambled on these situations before and invariably have lost.

It was too late to go anywhere else, so I bailed out and went home, getting there in plenty of time for morning coffee with my wife, Kae. We were watching my nephew Randall while his mom and dad were vacationing. So when he wandered down from the guest bedroom, I was ready for him.

"Hey, buddy!" I said. "Do you want to go hunting with me and Aunt Kae?"

"Okay," he said tentatively.

Wanting to make this as easy as possible, we went to a patch of woods where I had pushed whitetails successfully in the past. After we'd checked the wind, Kae headed toward the upwind end to push the deer while Randall and I hiked off to a bottleneck on the downwind end.

This took a while. Randall had a stride of about 10 inches, and he was not keen on the idea of being carried. So I let him walk beside me for the first 200 yards. When he started to play out, I asked him if he wanted a piggyback ride. That was different from being carried, so he gave me the nod.

When it comes to outdoors sports, we seem to be losing our youth these days. As older hunters die or become physically unable to hunt, young people are not filling their empty shoes. Many diversions like Xbox's, Wii's, and other video and computer games keep them inside, and they develop no interest in the joys of outdoor living.

In addition, life for parents in the early 21st Century has become so demanding that the most precious of assets -- time -- has become so scarce that busy parents have no spare time to expose children to the outdoor lifestyle.

I believe that all human beings carry a live, burning ember inside, a sometimes forgotten instinct to hunt. If we are to turn declining hunter numbers around and develop leaders who understand the natural world, we must fan this ember into a flame. In short, when we get a chance to take a kid hunting, we had better jump on it.

Normally, when I'm on the receiving end of a one-on-one whitetail push, I quickly set up a treestand that enables me to see the deer coming and to draw my bow without being noticed. With Randall along, I figured we'd better stay on Mother Earth. He was too little to understand gravity yet, and his well-being was more important than my success. As an alternative, I backed us up against a gnarly old ash tree, placed a good-sized fallen branch in front of us, and hoped for the best.

Before long, the first deer started our way. Two small bucks trotted down a path 35 yards away, a long shot in the riverbottom woods, and several fast-moving does followed the bucks. Then a mature doe appeared, following the trail as the other deer. But then she paused and accommodatingly turned and bounced toward us, stopping broadside at 15 yards when she noticed the two oddly-shaped lumps backed up against an old ash tree.

My arrow struck home, and she crashed off.

I looked down at Randall to gauge his reaction. His eyes were wide as he stared in the direction the doe had run, moving his lips as he silently talked to himself. He was doing great at staying quiet.

But when some more deer showed up and stopped practically in our laps, Randall lost his cool and started yelling. Sensory overload had got the best of him. But how could I fault him? He had stayed quiet for 45 minutes!

When Kae showed up, we took up the short-and-easy blood trail. Randall wasn't too sure what to think for a while, but soon his natural curiosity took over, and for the next half-hour he peppered us with questions. "Why is that deer lying there? What's that red stuff?

Did you shoot any more? Does your mom let you watch cartoons? Do you like SpongeBob SquarePants?"

And finally, "That was a good shot, Uncle Steve! Can we do this again?"

You bet we can, buddy. Any and every time you want.

The author and his young nephew hail from Glasgow, Montana.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

On this edition of "Dead On," Hall-of-Fame bowhunter Randy Ulmer shares advice on picking a spot to aim at when practicing with your bow.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort with the newest tree saddle hunting gear and tactics.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more height per stick, but at the addition of very little weight to the stick setup. An aider can provide one or two more steps per each stick section, thereby greatly increasing height potential when needed and allowing you to carry fewer total sticks to gain a specific height.

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony Peterson sees plenty of action while hunting whitetails and hogs in Texas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

New tree saddles, platforms, sticks and more provide greater efficiency and enjoyment when tree saddle hunting.Tree Saddle Hunting Gear Round-Up - Best of the Best Treestands & Blinds

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear Round-Up - Best of the Best

Mike Carney - November 23, 2020

New tree saddles, platforms, sticks and more provide greater efficiency and enjoyment when...

 Cooking venison in camp is the best way to celebrate success.Fresh Meat: Cooking Venison in Camp Recipes

Fresh Meat: Cooking Venison in Camp

David Draper

Cooking venison in camp is the best way to celebrate success.

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.Can Whitetails Reason? Whitetail

Can Whitetails Reason?

Gene Wensel

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Emily Schuh Berriochoa details her father's final harvest.The Last Stand: Dwight Schuh's Final Buck Stories

The Last Stand: Dwight Schuh's Final Buck

Emily Schuh Berriochoa

Emily Schuh Berriochoa details her father's final harvest.

Most of us are aware of the threat from glad-handing politicians who would love to get their greedyWhy Public Hunting Land Is More Valuable Than Many Realize Stories

Why Public Hunting Land Is More Valuable Than Many Realize

Tony J. Peterson - January 30, 2018

Most of us are aware of the threat from glad-handing politicians who would love to get their...

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others.Respect for the Hunt & Other Hunters Stories

Respect for the Hunt & Other Hunters

Dwight Schuh

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others.

Bowhunting with friends can be a fun experience, but taking on the wilderness alone is something special.To Be Alone: Hunting As Social Distancing Stories

To Be Alone: Hunting As Social Distancing

Dwight Schuh

Bowhunting with friends can be a fun experience, but taking on the wilderness alone is...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now