Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Going Hunting with Dad: Introducing Daughters to the Hunt

“Dad, we want to go deer hunting with you and I want to shoot a deer!”

I recall that my Dad smiled at this exclamation and nodded approvingly. At the time, I was nearing seven and my sister, Beth, was five. I had actually been hunting with Dad for the past couple of years. Beth joined us when she was four.

We sat in blinds, ate cookies, drank hot chocolate, looked at books, played games, looked through Dad’s binoculars and did our best to be quiet, which we seldom were. Dad simply smiled. When it became obvious that we were bored and no deer showed, we crawled out of the blind and went looking for rocks, shed antlers, and tracks. Then we headed back to the pickup or camp, de- pending upon where we were hunting. On occasion we did see deer, but not that often. Later, as we grew older, we understood why we did not see many deer: It was because we were often talking too loudly and giggling. Dad took it all in stride. As we grew up we learned that Dad was taking us hunting when we were small because it was more about spending time with us and getting us into the outdoors than actually about hunting for a deer.

mary-anne
Me, Theresa with my dad and sister Beth, with two whitetail bucks taken while hunting with Dad. MARY ANNE WEISHUHN PHOTO

A HUNT PROMISE

“Theresa, when you are eight, I’ll take you on a seri- ous deer hunt,” Dad had said. “Between now and then, you’ll have to learn how to shoot a deer rifle. You’ve been shooting a .22 rimfire, but a .22 rimfire is not a legal deer hunting rifle in Texas. We’ll start next week.”

Most states require passing a hunter safety course be- fore being allowed to hunt. In Texas, regardless of age, if a child is accompanied by a parent or guardian, the child can be issued a hunting license allowing them to hunt deer and other Texas game animals. Thus, at a tender age, Dad, as a practicing wildlife biologist and a lifetime hunter, essentially put both my sister and me through a private hunter safety course, along with teaching us a whole lot more. In time we both got our official hunter safety cards.

SUMMER OF PRACTICE

We spent the summer shooting rifles at the range, learning about trigger pull, taking the safety on and off, identifying the target and looking beyond it, using scopes and making proper shot placement to quickly and humanely kill a Whitetail deer. We continued shoot- ing a .22 rimfire, but one that was similar in many ways to the rifle we would later use to hunt deer. We shot from a shooting bench but also from field positions typical of deer hunting, especially using a log as a rest. My dad had set up a ground blind where a log would be a good solid rest when we got ready to shoot at a deer.

My sister, my Dad and I hunted on property he man- aged as a wildlife biologist. Those first few afternoons, Dad took us to a ground blind different from where we would eventually hunt. We packed our usual “gear bag” filled with potato chips, cookies, candy bars, soft drinks and a warm chocolate milk. Days before our hunt, Dad taught us how to use a grunt call. He had long used his voice to grunt in deer, rather than a call. But a friend who had just brought a grunt call onto market had sent Dad several of his calls to “play with.” So, between eating snacks, Dad encouraged us to blow on the grunt call as he had taught us. Beth and I took turns grunting, but also “quietly giggling” between those calls. Dad smiled and shook his head!

grandad
My maternal grandad, E. V. Potter, and I look over a really nice 8-point I shot while hunting with my dad

TEST CALLS

After making several grunts, when it was again Beth’s turn, she started blowing, “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider” song on the grunt call. Dad smiled and rolled his eyes. I am certain he never dreamed a deer would come to such a call. But to his surprise, a few moments into this call, a doe came out of the brush walking toward us, staring with ears forward, turning her head as if she was really curious. Moments later, a young buck walked out doing the same thing. Dad again rolled his eyes, shook his head and snickered. Beth and I started laughing. The deer turned, waved their tails at us and disappeared.

When I told my Dad that I really wanted to shoot a deer, he bought a second stock for his .270. He cut it to fit my shorter arms, put a recoil pad on it, then replaced the stock on his rifle with “my stock.” Once we had done so, I spent time doing “dry fires” while pointing at a target.

THE OPPORTUNITY

The day finally came for my opportunity to take a deer, I hoped we would see the “right one.” This time Beth stayed home; Dad told her he would take her to a hunt by herself a bit later. This time we only took soft chocolate chip cookies and a Thermos of hot chocolate with us to our log-in-front ground blind.

Dad had told me that I would get to shoot a buck if we saw one that was older and did not have huge antlers.

“I want you to start on a buck with small antlers, then in the future, you can try for a bigger-antlered buck. I do not want you to shoot the biggest buck of your life for your first one,” he had explained. Later, he said he’d too often seen parents allow their child to shoot a monster buck for their first one, and then the child who had done so lost interest in hunting.

Years later, when I had twin boys, Josh and Justin, Dad started both of them deer hunting with them sitting on his lap, eating cookies and chips and drinking hot chocolate. When they were 8, he required them to shoot a doe for their first deer. He did the same with Beth’s two sons, Jake and Andrew, and her daughter, Kathryn. After they had all taken a doe, they could hunt for a buck.

head
My dad, Larry Weishuhn, and I working on mounting a deer head.

BACK TO THE BUCK

We had been sitting in our ground blind nearly an hour when a small antlered buck appeared. Dad looked at him through his binoculars to be certain it was “the right” buck. He whispered for me to look at the deer through the scope and find his vitals. The crosshairs were steady, immediately behind the buck’s shoulder. “Remember Theresa, keep the crosshairs steady just behind the shoulder about halfway between his top and bottom, push the safety to fire, then gently pull the trigger when you are certain of your shot.” I took a deep breath, let it out and pulled the trigger. My buck went down! “Reload and get the crosshairs on him. If he moves, shoot him again,” instructed Dad.

When the deer did not move, Dad grabbed me in a bear hug and congratulated me. I was thrilled beyond words but also a bit sad about taking the deer’s life. But I knew his meat would feed us for quite some time. And hunting and harvesting deer was important in keeping the deer herd and the habitat healthy.

WHO’S MOST PROUD?

Walking toward my downed deer, I am not sure who was most proud, Dad or me! After admiring the deer and more congratulations and hugs plus a few quick pic- tures, Dad told me to stay with my deer. He’d go get the pickup to take it back to camp to show Mom and Beth and take care of the meat.

A couple of years later, Dad took Beth to shoot her first deer as well. Her hunt was almost identical to mine, including Dad nearly hyperventilating as he waited for her to take the shot.

Both Beth and I shot our first deer with a .270 Win topped with a 4x Weaver scope, using Hornady ammo. Neither of us was very big at the time. Years later, Dad asked us if we felt any recoil. Both of us were hardly aware the gun had been shot!

Both Beth and I continued hunting deer each fall with Dad until we headed to college. Then it was tough to get home for a deer hunt. But Dad kept us in venison.

beth
My sister Beth and me, Theresa on the right with two javelinas taken while hunting with Dad. LARRY WEISHUHN OUTDOORS PHOTO

A NEW GENERATION

Later, when Beth and I had children, Dad taught them about guns and hunting. Each of his grandchildren shot their first deer when they were eight; it was a doe, done while sitting on his lap. Once they had shot a doe, they were allowed to hunt for and shoot a small buck. All of Dad’s grandkids shot their first deer with a .375 JDJ. Dad told them it was an elephant gun. During the 1980’s J.D. Jones, developer of the round, took 18 elephants with his creation.

Beth and I both continue hunting whenever we can. I hunt more than Beth because I have more time to do so. These days, I hunt deer with Dad, my husband Lance, and Josh and Justin on family property that our family got title to in 1876 that adjoins acreage Dad leases for hunting.

Beth and I were extremely lucky growing up. We learned early about guns, hunting, how to prepare ven- ison and wildlife conservation. Mom does not hunt, but she loves the outdoors and loves venison. She taught us how to properly prepare “deer meat” and was always very supportive of our hunting.

HUNT AND FUN

When we were growing up, especially before we shot our first deer, Dad always made certain our hunting trips were about us, rather than strictly hunting. We ate cook- ies, chips and drank soft drinks and hot chocolate when we were in a “deer stand.” He showed us birds, deer, and a lot of other animals and wildlife habitat. When we grew restless or wanted to go for a walk, even at prime hunting time, we did so. He made hunting fun! When we were young, we occasionally also got to hunt with both sets of grandparents. They did things much the same way Dad did, making hunting fun.

Today more people are getting into hunting once again, thankfully! I think much of this is because people want to know where their food comes from, and, that it is being produced without chemicals and hormones. Meat from deer, rabbits, squirrels, turkey, doves and waterfowl as well as larger big game animals is the perfect healthy food source.

I believe people soon realize that harvesting their own meat can be fun and rewarding. Getting to spend quality time in the deer woods, but also quality time spent with family and friends around the campfire is part of that.

I find it extremely interesting that more and more women and girls are getting into hunting. My Dad has often said, “In my perfect world half the hunting licenses sold would be bought by women!”

Thankfully, more fathers are taking their daughters hunting. I recently visited with Corey Mason, who like my dad, is a wildlife biologist. Mason now serves as the executive director of DSC and DSC Foundation. Mason’s wife Karyn started hunting with Corey after they got married. Their daughter, Kate, began hunting much in the same way Beth and I started. As a family, particularly when Kate was quite young, they spent whatever time they could in the outdoors, observing and learning about wildlife.

kathryn
Kathryn Johnson, Larry Weishuhn’s granddaughter with her first whitetail buck, after previously taking does.

FATHERLY ADVICE

I asked Mason what advice he would give to anyone wanting to introduce a daughter to hunting. He told me: “Make the entire trip or hunt about your daughter. Real- ize most young people do not have great patience. From the stories you told me about hunting with your Dad, we did things much the same, making hunting fun. When Kate first started hunting with me, just about the time deer should be beginning to move, she would become bored having been in the deer blind with me for a while, particularly if we were not seeing a bunch of deer. She would tell me, “Dad let’s go look for shed antlers!” Much as I really wanted to stay and hunt, we got out of the blind and went looking for shed antlers, artifacts, pretty rocks and the like because I wanted hunting to be fun for her.”

He continued, “Most young children do not have a whole lot of patience. They want some sort of action going on all the time. I used to take games for us to play when we were in our deer blind. When Kate tired of the games, we played “rock, scissors, paper” or something similar. Doing those things, and me not being so con- cerned about killing a deer, Kate wanted to continue hunting with me. As a result, Kate has become quite a hunter. She has accompanied Karyn and me on hunts here at home in Texas, but also to Canada and beyond, and she has taken animals there. She now loves hunting as much as I do. Kate also has an understanding of how important hunting is to the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

Mason concluded: “My best advice when it comes to introducing daughters to hunting is to keep it fun and make the hunt about what your daughter wants to do, rather than what you want to do. If you approach hunting in this manner, it will pay huge future dividends to both you and your daughter!”

ANOTHER VIEW

I also asked Brandon Houston, whom my dad part- ners with in H3 Whitetail Solutions, their wildlife man- agement consulting company, about his thoughts on introducing his daughter, Braylee, to hunting.

He told me: “I grew up hunting and have always loved the outdoors and any and everything about hunting.

Growing up, I read everything your father wrote and watched everything he put on TV. I saw the shows when we took your sons and your sister’s sons and daughter hunting. I noticed they always had fun. I grew up the same way.”

Houston continued: “Your dad and I have talked quite a bit about introducing daughters to hunting. Braylee started going afield with me before she could walk. My son, Stetson, did the same. Brandi, my wife, and I both love the outdoors, so with us, it is a way of life.” He also noted, “When I take Braylee to our hunting property, I make it all about her. It starts when we get into my pick- up with her choosing whatever music she wants to listen to on the radio. Our hunts together are all about her and what she wants to do.”

corey
Corey Mason and daughter Kate with a whitetail deer she took hunting with her father. KARYN MASON PHOTO

MOM VIEWPOINTS

I also talked to several single moms who have intro- duced their young sons and daughters to hunting. They usually start with small game, like squirrels and rabbits. Both are less expensive to hunt and like deer, they are really good to eat and they are a whole lot more available.

Several single moms and single dads that live here in Texas, where I do, have gotten their young children into hunting by contacting the Texas Wildlife Association, which is home for the Texas Youth Hunting Program.

Since TYHP’s inception, the program has introduced 80,000-plus youngsters to hunting. Organizations such as this can be of huge help in introducing young daugh- ters and sons to hunting.

It’s my suggestion that if you have a daughter, get her into the outdoors and hunting early in life. Just as my dad, along with Corey Mason, Brandon Houston and many other fathers have done, be sure to make hunting fun. Make the time spent afield all about your daugh- ter. My Dad would also warn you not to be surprised that, when you teach your daughter how to shoot, be it archery or firearm, she is a better shot than you and a better hunter, too!

Log In to your Premium Membership Account | Not a member? Register Now

© 2022 Outdoor Specialty Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to know the latest updates

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]
Start Saving, Join today!
Save up to 40%
On over 50 brands!

For just $29.99/year, you could save hundreds on gear you’re going to buy anyways!