My daughters, ages 12 and 13, will hunt in their first-ever youth antlerless whitetail deer season Sept. 17-26.

My husband, Nathan, spent a recent Sunday afternoon at a local sporting goods store deciding which deer rifles would be best for each daughter to have their own. He called me a few times as we do before big purchases and said, “I think they each can deer hunt with these for the rest of their lives.”

It’s time to take first-timers hunting. The 2021 youth white-tail deer hunting season runs Sept. 17-26 in North Dakota. Two new youth deer hunters include Anika and Elizabeth Pinke who practiced their shooting in preparation. Photo taken Sept. 10, 2021 near Aneta, North Dakota.
Katie Pinke / Agweek
It’s time to take first-timers hunting. The 2021 youth white-tail deer hunting season runs Sept. 17-26 in North Dakota. Two new youth deer hunters include Anika and Elizabeth Pinke who practiced their shooting in preparation. Photo taken Sept. 10, 2021 near Aneta, North Dakota. Katie Pinke / Agweek
After sports practices on a recent Friday night, we drove out to the farm for some shooting practice with Nathan and their sharpshooter Uncle Mike, who had targets set and ready for practice. Neither of our daughters have been gun shooters in the past but both have been active in 4-H archery for many years. Elizabeth also has participated in a National Archery in Schools Program the past two school years, which Anika will join this year. Archery experience gave our girls some confidence in shooting their new deer rifles. Nathan explained later as we ate a family supper together in my parent’s farmhouse how each girl overcame some nerves and improved to hit the bullseye several times. There will be another target practice or two, and then it’s onto their first youth deer season in the coming days.

I can list plenty of other commitments that we could use to justify not having time to teach our kids to hunt: elementary basketball games, junior high volleyball matches, piano lessons, pep band, church confirmation commitments, along with work and family commitments my husband and I hold.

Except, we’re losing a generation of hunters, several generations possibly, if we don’t start engaging and taking first-timers hunting.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

If hunting isn't a part of family traditions now, start a new tradition of hunting as an annual family activity and shared experience. Before hunters education and gaining their first youth deer licenses, the Pinke girls walked alongside their family members in past hunting seasons to learn about the sport. Shown are Nathan, Elizabeth and Anika Pinke in November 2018. 
Katie Pinke/ Agweek
If hunting isn't a part of family traditions now, start a new tradition of hunting as an annual family activity and shared experience. Before hunters education and gaining their first youth deer licenses, the Pinke girls walked alongside their family members in past hunting seasons to learn about the sport. Shown are Nathan, Elizabeth and Anika Pinke in November 2018. Katie Pinke/ Agweek
Hunting is a way of life I don’t want to lose. First, hunting is wildlife management. Hunting represents our heritage. Hunting holds family tradition for many of us.

Do not let a hunting lifestyle and tradition die with your generation. Continue hunting traditions with the next generation and lead by example.

It’s time to take first-timers hunting. Who first took you hunting? Like my grandpa, uncle, dad and mom took my siblings and me hunting decades ago. I simply walked for years and never hunted. I was along for the fresh air and camaraderie. As an adult I finally enrolled in a hunter education course alongside one of my kids.

No one took you hunting? Start a new family tradition of hunting as an annual family activity and shared experience. Yes, you can take a hunters education course as an adult. You and your spouse can attend together or as a whole family when your kids are 11 years old in the calendar year or older. I married a pheasant hunting man 15 years ago, and every year since, he’s been a whitetail deer hunter too. It’s also not too late to expand what, where and how you hunt.

Pry kids away from screens. Keep a couple of fall weekends open when you sign up for licenses in the spring and commit to hunting each fall or spring in the season of your choice.

Waterfowl, pheasant, deer, elk, turkey hunting, whatever you choose. Let’s change the trajectory of declining hunters and bring back family traditions and shared experiences of hunting in the wide-open spaces with permission from landowners or on the public lands of our countryside.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.