Take a Kid -- Or Significant Other -- Bowfishing

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I often joke that my wife, Gwyn, was an anti-hunter when we met. This isn't excactly true, though she was certainly leaning in that direction. As our relationship became more serious she quickly developed a fascination for archery.  Soon she began winning 3-D tournaments.  But bowhunting?  No way!

Wifey also loves to fish, and eat what she catches.  Because, you know, fish don't have puppy-dog eyes or souls. The first time I mentioned bowfishing she thought it was a koke. So one spring day I rigged her up and said, "Let's go!" She played along a bit sceptically, willing to await the punch line.

We hit the spawn perfectly. They were literally swimming between our legs, They were wallowing in shallows with backs exposed, rolling on the surface in big pods. In short order I witnessed a remarkable transformation - my animal-lover wife turned bloodthirsty savage. "Get him!  Get Him!" became her mantra as each carp darted toward deep-water safety. Nearly eight years later she's arrowed five turkeys, a black bear and spike whitetail with bow...

Gwyn also loves children. She's the type goo-gooing your infant in the grocery-store checkout or chatting up your youngster in the hardware store. She ran a youth program in her spare time in New Mexico, 12 to 25 kids arriving every Saturday for arts and crafts, field trips and such. It wasn't long before she asked me to teach her kids archery. Long story short; three of those kids were bitten hard by the archery bug. Soon these three would accompany us on frequent bowfishing expeditions and 3-D shoots.

It was fun to watch those unassuming pre-teens take to bowfishing with absolute gusto, quickly learning to stalk patiently, timing shots for higher-odds shots, the enthusiasm following each connection and non-competitive congratulations offered one another. One of these was a 12-year-old girl I never would have guessed would put up with all the mud and slime. She became the most passionate bowfisherman of them all - invaribly asking, "When we going carp shooting?" when I'd see the kids in town.

Want to hook a kid or partner on bowhunting? Take them bowfishing. It's a natural stepping stone to bigger things, because, like I said, few have the sentiments toward fish they do for furry critters like rabbits or deer. Bowfishing is also action-packed and engaging - and it's really difficult to have a bad time on a hot spring or summer's day when knee deep in cooling water. All that action prevents the "I'm Bored" syndrome all youngsters are susceptible to. In fact, I was always the one who had to spoil the fun and call everyone off the water at day's end. All the kids I've taken bowfishing would've happily stayed at it until darkness overtook them.

Keep it simple, keep it fun and bowfishing's a sure bet for setting the bowhunting hook firmly in the average kid. This means supplying basic gear and wading shallows. Apply the sunscreen and leave your own bow behind, helping starting youngsters spot fish and set them up for shots. After a couple successful shots you'll see that magic transformation, creating a possible bowhunting partner of life.