My nephew, John, had a grin spread across his face that was reminiscent of a jack-o-lantern. You see, my nephew is missing a tooth in a very conspicuous spot, which gives him quite the snaggletooth grin. He tries not to smile too much these days, I think because he’s embarrassed that he has a gap that is so easily spotted. But the other day was impossible for him to hide it.

That’s because my nephew, with the help of my dad, had taken his first rabbit.

“I missed the first time because I couldn’t see through the scope right,” John said when he eagerly ran up to me to tell me the tale. “Grandpa helped me out and then I pulled the trigger and I got it.”

That rabbit was already dressed and skinned by the time I got there just a half hour later and John was looking forward to having his mom cook it up for the family to enjoy.

“I’ll give you five dollars for it,” I said, trying to coax him out of the tasty morsel.

“Nope,” he responded, which actually surprised me because John isn’t one to turn down money.

“Why not?” I inquired.

He shrugged at first and turned to walk away, but the answer popped into his head instead of just floating around him as an emotion he couldn’t explain.

“Because I shot it, and I want my family to eat it,” he said, beaming with pride.

I was happy to see how proud my nephew was. Part of it was getting to hunt with grandpa, who hardly gets out to hunt at all except for deer season anymore. But the biggest portion of the satisfaction that was beating in his chest was no doubt that he had done it: It was his FIRST rabbit.

There should be no doubt that one of the joys of hunting is getting a chance to share the experience. That’s why we snap photos and keep trophies, after all. It’s a joy that is doubled when you share it with a young hunter. Who doesn’t remember their first deer? Their first bird? Their first bear?

With small game season in full swing in most areas, now is the time to get out and teach our youth hunters the ins and outs of the sporting world we enjoy ourselves. Just the excitement they have for the moment is enough to make it more enjoyable for you.

As for John–well, he’s already looking forward to going bird hunting this weekend. And, really, who can blame him?

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