Raising A Coues Hunter

Raising A Coues Hunter

by Darren Choate

Like many, my father introduced me to hunting. To date, I have gone afield in several Western states; hunting with archery gear, a rifle slung over my shoulder or as a guide on another hunter’s hunt. I have successfully harvested elk, mule deer, Texas Whitetail, Carmen Mountain Whitetail, and my favorite, the Coues White-tailed deer.

Raising A Coues Hunter
At a young age, my youngest son spent nearly every weekend with me on the late archery hunt.

Now, my two children (both boys) are grown and hunting on their own—my youngest more than his older brother. Early in their lives, I followed a regimented five-step plan to help them become safe and ethical hunters.

Step One – Safety

When my boys developed an interested in shooting and hunting, which was at an early age (around the age of three); I introduced them to the concepts of gun/archery safety. I used my hunting rifles and bows as props, showing them proper gun/bow-handling and safety procedures.

Step Two –Hunting Ethics

When I felt my boys were old enough to understand the basic concept of fair chase, I introduced them to the ethics of hunting by reading a book on the subject with them. I chose Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting, by Jim Posewitz. I selected this particular book because it has concise, easy to read chapters, catering to their short attention spans.

Step Three – Get ‘Em a Gun or Bow

Raising A Coues Hunter
My oldest son on a Coues whitetail hunt in Arizona’s GMU 31.

Since I am an avid bowhunter, my boys became interested in archery hunting as well as rifle hunting. Archery is a great way to introduce young hunters to the sport because the safety measures are far less complicated than with shooting sports. I initiated my boys hunting experience with archery equipment. Both of my boys started with a recurve bow at a young age, and then quickly moved to a compound bow. Early on, they were not ready to hunt with archery gear, but they gained valuable experiences through shooting on a regular basis.

Once each of the boys passed my assessment of their firearms safety, I bought each of them their own BB gun. I made them follow the 10 commandments of firearm safety. After shooting, they were required to put their gun in a safe condition, and then into our firearms safe. Beforehand, I would inspect their guns to insure the gun was in a safe condition. If the gun did not meet the appropriate settings, we discuss the possible ramifications, and then they had to remedy the situation. Other times, I fiddled with the gun’s settings, and allowed them to put the gun back into the proper, safe condition before storing their gun.

Step Four – Practice

I took advantage of the technology age and my children’s love of video games. There were, and still are several high-quality hunting games on the market today for both PC and gaming platforms. Using video games allowed me to simulate real-world hunting situations that were sterile and safe, where I could assess their field knowledge without endangering anyone. During the simulation, if anyone violated a law, they would lose a turn and we would discuss the consequences that they would have faced in the real world. Video games also provided other learning opportunities, for example: shot placement, shot selection, and appropriate caliber choices for various game animals.

The author’s son glasses for Coues bucks.

Step Five – Get in the Woods

I put the onus on myself to provide opportunities for all of us to get out hunting or scouting. I always asked my children if they wanted to tag along with me on hunting and scouting trip, without forcing the issue. I wanted them to enjoy hunting on their terms, not mine. As much as I could, I taught them about the quarry we pursued, how to identify: tracks, scat, bedding cover, likely forage, and many others

On some of the hunts, they accompanied me on, I successfully harvested an animal; and on some, I went home empty handed. In both cases, I enjoyed the time spent with my children immensely, and I think they did too. I always stressed the fact that hunting is just as much—or more—about spending time together in the woods, as it is the harvest. I experienced some of the most precious moments of my life while hunting with my boys, and most of the memories created were on Coues whitetail deer hunts. I encourage you to take your children on a Coues hunt soon.

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