WHY, HOW AND WHERE TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO HUNT
John Cameron on Quail Hunting With Youngsters
NOTE: Don't ask a youngster to sit still and quiet and like it.
As a matter of fact they hate sitting still and quiet. For this reason,
young children sometimes don't enjoy hunting deer and turkeys. But, you'll
have kids wired if you show them some action. For an all-together different
idea, try hunting quail at a shooting preserve. Shooting preserves have
horses or mule-drawn wagons kids can ride. At a shooting preserve, you
will have non-stop action to occupy the youngsters. They'll enjoy riding
the wagons or the horses, watching the dogs, shooting the birds, finding
the birds and petting the dogs. You can't find any sport better for wired
youngsters than preserve quail hunting. This week let's look at Cameron's
Hunting Preserve in Panola, Alabama, in west/central Alabama and learn
how to build memories with your family. Bubber Cameron started Cameron's
Quail Preserve in the late 60s. John Cameron and his older brother Rush
Cameron, Bubber's sons, now operate the preserve.
Question: How long has Cameron's Quail Preserve
trained dogs and operated as a shooting preserve?
John Cameron: Our father started in 1962 training bird dogs. He
officially opened the preserve in 1974. However, when he was training
dogs, Dad would always let his customers go out into the field with him
and shoot some of the quail that the dogs pointed. In the late 60s and
early 70s more people started coming to our land and wanting to kill birds
with the dogs that Dad had been training. So the quail preserve just evolved
out of the dog-training business. Today, we average about 1,100 hunters
who come through our quail preserve each year.
When you have a family come to the quail preserve, what is the first thing
you teach the family?
John Cameron: We teach the moms, the dads and the children how
to be safe with the guns, the horses and the dogs. We teach the children
and the adults to never load their guns until the dogs are on-point and
the hunters are on the ground. Once the guns are loaded, we ask them to
always keep their safeties on and the muzzles of the guns pointed straight
up in the air. We never want a barrel pointed at the ground. And we never
want the youngsters to put their fingers on the triggers of the guns until
the birds are in the air.
Question: If Mom and Dad want to shoot, as well
as the children, what procedures do you use?
John Cameron: Anytime that we have children on the shooting preserve
we keep the children with either Rush or me. When I walk up to the quail,
I keep my hand on the child and explain to the youngster where he can
shoot, where he can't shoot, what to do and what to expect. We show him
the area in front of him that he can shoot birds within so that he doesn't
interfere with his mom or dad. We assume the role of coach, and the youngsters
are our players. We prefer to take responsibility for the children, so
that the mothers and dads can have a good time shooting quail, just like
the youngsters do. We have found that the children are more likely to
listen to us and obey us because we are strangers than they will be to
mind their mothers and fathers. We make sure that the youngsters know
where every dog is. We make sure they know where their parents are and
where the horses and wagons are. We want to orient the child so he knows
where he can and cannot shoot. We want the youngsters to flush the quail,
and we want to be right with them so that if they swing their guns in
an unsafe direction we can stop the guns and stop their swings.
What do you do if you have more than one child hunting with a party?
John Cameron: We take turns. One child will have the gun, and the
other child can either stay on his horse or in the wagon and watch from
that vantage point. The next time that the dogs point, the child who has
been watching becomes the shooter, and the shooter becomes the watcher.
If we have children who have never hunted before, we ask them to walk
in with us without guns and flush the quail two or three times before
they are permitted to carry guns. By approaching the sport this way, the
child sees what is going to happen, learns what the quail are going to
do, what the dogs are going to do, and what the other hunters are going
to do before he learns to shoot. The youngsters need to see how the quail
flies, and think about when and where they are going to take their shots
before they ever have guns in their hands.
Question: Is seeing a lot of birds and being able
to shoot a lot, one of the big advantages of going to quail preserves
John Cameron: Absolutely. We raise a large number of quail in the
wild on our preserve. And we keep and hold large coveys of quail on our
property. Seeing a covey with 40 to 100 quail in it is not uncommon on
our preserve. On our preserve, the youngster will see a lot of quail and
have plenty of opportunity to pull the trigger on his/her shotgun. The
reason we like to keep the children with us is because that way we can
ensure the child will be safe and that the Mom and Dad get to enjoy the
Question: What does the child learn after the
quail is flushed and the shooting is over?
John Cameron: We teach a child to put the gun back on safety. We
make sure there are no shells in the chamber. Then we take the youngster
with us to work with the dog to try and find the quail. We like to let
the dog bring the quail back to the youngster and have the youngster take
the quail out of the dog's mouth. Quail hunting is not just about shooting
the birds. We teach the children to work with the dogs to learn what the
dogs are doing and to learn how to help the dogs find the quail that have
been shot. When the youngster takes the quail from the dog, we let him/her
put the quail in the saddlebags on the horse or in the bird box on the
wagon. We want the youngster to get the total experience of a quail hunt
and learn to enjoy the dogs, the horses, the birds, the shooting and being
outside. But most of all we want them to learn to be safe.
When families come to Cameron's Quail Preserve, they have the option of
walking, riding a horse, or riding on a mule-drawn wagon. Which form of
transportation do the youngsters usually choose?
John Cameron: The older youngsters usually prefer to ride the horses.
Younger children generally prefer to ride the wagon because there are
plenty of soft drinks and snacks on the wagon. I think with some youngsters,
they enjoy drinking the soft drinks, eating the candies and riding on
the wagon with their mom and dad as much as they do anything else. If
there is more than one child on the wagon, they enjoy talking with their
buddies. The wagon is almost like a rolling playhouse for the little children.
Sometimes the children like to do both. They want to ride the horses for
awhile, and then they want to get on the wagon and rest their backsides
from the saddles. Then they want to get back on the horses again. So many
families opt to take the wagon and a horse or two on the hunt. Sometimes
one parent will ride the wagon while the other parent rides the horse.
Then if a youngster wants to ride the horse, both parents will ride in
the wagon, or if a youngster wants to ride behind his mom or dad on a
horse they can ride like that.
Question: If a family is coming to the shooting
preserve for the first time, do you advise them to ride horses or ride
John Cameron: I recommend that they ride the wagon. Everyone can
ride the wagon. The wagon is also good if Grandmother and Granddad want
to come on the hunt too.
For more information on Cameron's Quail Preserve, you
can write John Cameron at 1001 Brockway Road #4, Aliceville, Alabama 35442.
Or, email John or Rush Cameron at Cameron@froglevel.net
or call (205) 455-2420.
TOMORROW: RUSH CAMERON ON QUAIL HUNTING WITH YOUNGSTERS