Variety of experience will help the next generation


I’m lucky to have been able to travel and hunt many different states in my adulthood. I’ve taken beautiful bucks, harvested a boatload of long beards and a lot of other various game animals, both big and small. Yes, I believe that constitutes as somewhat of a humble brag.

Although I have come into my own as a hunter, I owe almost all of my hunting passion and skills to my father, Rick Knouse. With no legacy and youth hunter programs like we have instituted today, the legal hunting age for me wasn’t until I hit 12 years old. Dad took me hunting well before that just to let me watch. I wasn’t old enough to carry a gun into the rabbit woods, which is where I first started, but I was old enough to watch and listen to the dogs work and learn a thing or two.

Along with that, backyard shooting is something that I believe to be very common all across the great state of Pennsylvania. Aside from some early experiences in the woods, I acquired numerous other experiences that would prepare me for later hunting styles. From plinking cans with .22s, target shooting with scoped rifles or shooting sporting clays with a shotgun, recreational shooting is something that I grew up with a lot of.

I learned to shoot with a Red Ryder BB gun at a young age, and thanks to real gun safety education, I didn’t shoot my eye out. I enjoyed evolving from that to my first rifle, but later found that spending a weekend shooting hundreds of clay pigeons with friends was a great way to pass time.

It turned out that all of those experiences I had as a youngster would be invaluable later in life. Plinking cans with a .22; lots of squirrels met their demise from a .22LR bullet places accurately behind their ear. Rifle shooting; I killed my first deer with a well placed shot at age twelve and never looked back. Shooting clays; I’ve knocked down pheasants, ducks, geese, grouse, doves, and other migratory birds with the accuracy I acquired by hitting a moving target.

So all of this isn’t just to humble brag or to give my dad a pat on the back, which he certainly deserves, but to place the importance on the variety of experiences for aspiring hunters that can translate into the hunt.

Time in the woods hunting is important, but the time spent out of the woods learning things like the aforementioned shooting styles and gun safety could be the difference maker in setting up your young hunter and our next generation for great success in the field.

So, load up on ammo mom and dad, whether it’s BBs or shotgun shells, there’s a lot of practicing to do.

Hunt hard, hunt safe, and shoot straight friends.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.