James MacDonald | Mossy Oak ProStaff
One of the first youth waterfowl hunts I guided was on a refuge with a young man who had never hunted before. Accompanying the youngster was his father, who didn’t hunt, and his 81-year-old grandfather who hadn’t hunted since he was in his 20s. Out of 25 shells, this young man harvested three or four ducks.
On a federal refuge, you can only take 25 shells per person into the blind with you. The youngster almost got his limit with his dad and grandfather watching. That was a great day for me to see all three of them enjoy each other and their day outdoors. Grandpa was really into what was happening. Every time his grandson shot and missed, he smiled as if to say, “Been there. Done that.” We all had a really great time together that day.
I got an email from this family the next year, and the dad had bought a shotgun and some waders. Father and son hunted together on the waterfowl refuge after the hunt they’d had with me the previous year. So, not only did the young man get into duck hunting, but he brought his dad into the sport too. Now they have a tradition they can enjoy and a sport they can participate in and pass on to others.
The hunt with this family was one of the greatest hunts I’d ever been on, because it united three generations of a family, showed the dad how much fun he could have with his son by hunting, enabled the grandfather to relive his past and let him see his grandson enjoy what he’d loved as a young man. Not only that, it resulted in the dad and the son hunting waterfowl a year later, which could inspire them to pass the sport on to future generations. I couldn’t have had a more satisfying day and experience in a duck blind.
I've been lucky to experience other first-time hunts with youth. It is a blessing to be able to take young people hunting.
James MacDonald of Cornelius, Oregon, has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for almost 10 years. He was recently named 2017 Mossy Oak ProStaffer of the Year for his philanthropy work and volunteerism. MacDonald enjoys hunting waterfowl, teaching others to hunt and training retrievers.