Hunting with Kids – Learning to Deal with Failure

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As a mom, college teacher, and friend, I struggle when I see people quit when something does not go well. Not that it isn’t okay to put yourself in time out sometimes to regroup, but I see almost daily at work or at home, the struggle to connect one “failure” and the person’s thoughts about their ability to do whatever it is, leading for them to not try. In my hunting career, I have had many people tell me if they had my bad luck, they would have quit. But for me, it is the journey and learning from mistakes and “failures.” Every hunt is an opportunity to learn about yourself or hunting in general.

I had the pleasure of taking Violet to our hunt club, Valhalla, on the first weekend of our club season. To preface this, I had been shooting amazingly. I was 5 for 5 on planted birds for Rooster as we finished up our first summer of training. Violet helped me train Rooster and having this dog has given both my kids something they were missing. They love this crazy puppy and are invested in his hunting success. 

Hunting with Kids

So, Rooster, Violet, and I go to the place we have been exercising all summer and often find random chukars from training. I got him two pheasants and two chukars planted. I am strong. I am confident. This is going to be amazing. I am going to meet my goal of getting Rooster’s first rooster on day one of hunting. So we go, and he finds the first bird. Violet is behind me; it is perfect. He is doing exactly what he is supposed to do. I approach, he holds, and I can’t see the stupid chukar.

This is the end of the days of feeling big and proud and shooting every bird we find. I find the chukar, with Violet safely behind me, and then I miss the dirty little monster bird with all three of my shots. Rooster takes off, not understanding that his human has failed him. He then flushes both his hen and his rooster pheasant – all in the first 10 minutes of our 2-hour hunt. So, we continue and find no fewer than five more chukars, two more hens and Rooster is on fire, pointing at every bird. I even shot his first rooster, but it fell into some thick brush that four chukars flushed from, so we did not bring home his first rooster.

 I missed no fewer than 10 upland birds and my child says to me, “good job mom; you did so well.”

This child, who will quit and says she is so bad at everything if some minuscule thing happens, tells me that my abysmal shooting was amazing, and I did well.  She understood, maybe for that one moment in her life, that the hunt was about hunting, not killing, and that we trained that dog, who, while perfect, is great at his job at nine months old. 

The joy of the hunt and sharing the reason; a dog doing its job, was not lost on her. It was a great lesson. We can have a horrible day and do many things wrong and what is important is we have fun and spent quality time learning together.

The biggest lesson as a hunter, and a mom, is that failure is inevitable and learning from failure is how we improve everywhere in life. Letting my kids bond with this dog and watching us fail and grow will likely be one of the best examples of perseverance they will see.

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