5 Helpful Hints for Taking a Kid Hunting

23 Jul 2013_08_03_9999_361

Derek teaching shooting basics at this summer’s Women’s Try-It Day.

By Derek Klawitter

Here is a short list of helpful hints for taking a kid (or a rookie) out hunting. I find these hints also help for guiding aging hunters. For many years, my father did all he could to make sure my hunts were successful. Now the tides have turned, and I find myself going above and beyond to return years of favors as I never know when my dad will hang up his hunting hat.

1. Scouting – I personally have the attention span of a 3 year old, so when you are going to introduce someone new to hunting, it is good to have a “secret” spot where at least you will have a chance to see game. Spend some days ahead of time, checking the area to see if there is game present. Being in a game-rich environment will make the outing more enjoyable for everyone involved.

2. Preparing – Simple things like putting a snickers bar in your pocket or wearing an extra pair of socks on cold mornings make a difference. (Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than being cold!) Another way to be prepared is to bring a roll of toilet paper along. I know hunters are supposed to be rough and tough, but we all still have a tender side.

3. Time and Distance – It is always good to keep in mind how long you spend out in the field. Just because you can last 15 hours in a tree stand doesn’t mean others can or want to. At first, try to limit the time to no more than 2 to 3 hours. And little legs are not made for marathons, so keep the distance in perspective as well.

GFP's Chris Hull with a young hunter.

GFP’s Chris Hull with a young hunter.

4. Remember who the hunt is for – I find it easier for all involved to only have the child/rookie hunt. Stick to playing guide when you take out beginners. That way you can dedicate all of your knowledge to the new recruit and not worry about bagging an animal yourself. Also, after the hunt, let the hunter tell all of the stories to mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Listening to how the child/rookie perceived the hunt is very educational.

5. Safety and Ethics – Safety while hunting is the number one concern. Risks with any dangerous activity are always higher with inexperience. Be a role model. New hunters are very moldable and if you take shortcuts and have questionable ethics, there is a great chance the child will pick up on these.

I hope all of these little hints help you introduce or reintroduce people to the great sport of hunting! If anyone has any other questions or concerns, visit me at The Outdoor Campus, and I would love to assist in any way I can.

Fostering Lifetime-Long Outdoor Memories

19 Jul

By Jessica Bogue, Naturalist Intern – July 16, 2014Jessica-archery

If one were to ask you about your favorite childhood memories, do you know how you would respond? Perhaps your most precious memories lie within the folds of a family vacation or a class field trip. Others may find their memories entangled with siblings or best friends. Or maybe a favorite pet or toy.

If one were to ask me, I would not need to ponder long before radiating a surplus of memories, all of which are close to my heart. There is a unique commonality to all my favorite childhood memories. Whether it was racing my siblings on horseback through our alfalfa field, walking with a friend down the gravel road to go fishing at the creek or tagging along with Grandpa on turkey hunts, each and every one of these cherished memories took place outside.

The Outdoor Campus - Caught a fishI want to be able to give children the same opportunity so they can create their own memories. And there’s no better place to start than The Outdoor Campus. Here learning, exploring and discovering are entwined in the outdoors. The laughter that can be heard from a wide-eyed child as they reel in their “river monster” of a fish from the pond is enough for anyone to plainly see that here—in the outdoors—is where many favorite childhood memories are fostered. I’m continually amazed by the excitement and joy that is brought forth when a child lifts a rock to discover a creepy, crawly bug underneath.

I hope every child has the opportunity to create memories in the outdoors that will last a lifetime. The Outdoor Campus provides that opportunity – promoting outdoor learning, advocate preservation of South Dakota’s great outdoors and ensuring the continual creation of children’s favorite memories.

Sunshine in a Cloud

30 Jun
Everything you need for Sunshine in a Cloud

Everything you need for Sunshine in a Cloud

We know s’mores can get sticky and messy on your camping trip – that’s why we’re introducing you to Sunshine in a Cloud today! It’s a super yummy camping dessert that is fun to make and not too bad in the sticky-hands-problem category.

(Serves 6-8)

8 oz. tub of Cool Whip
1 sleeve cinnamon graham crackers
1 lb. can peach halves
6-8 sandwich size Ziploc bags
Put 1/2 cup of Cool Whip into a sandwich size Ziploc bag.
Add 1 peach half and one graham cracker.
Zip the bag closed and squeeze everything together.
Open a corner of the bag and slurp the “sunshine in a cloud” right out of the bag.

GFP Fawn Capture Images

20 Jun 1401034375965

Our Wildlife division has been hard at work the last several weeks collaring fawns to monitor population and mortality rates in Region 3′s white-tailed deer.

The data received from the fawn study is invaluable in determining how to care for the state’s deer population and how to handle deer tag NCM_0157reductions or increases.

Does usually give birth to two fawns at a time. During their early weeks, she may leave them unattended to find food and water, but goes through a great effort to keep them scentless.
GFP officials and those working with them find the fawns by monitoring doe activity and then walking the area in search of the newborn deer.

R1401297688282egion 3 collared 53 fawns, and statewide GFP managed to collar 271NCM_0150.14018100522191401891729584





Five Things a Hunt Teaches Children

13 Jun 2013_08_03_9999_863

By Matthew Stoffel

Few things let us escape into the natural world like hunting – whether for pheasants, ducks or deer. Hunters recount moments of full immersion into their environment on these excursions. The mix of tranquility and excitement a single outing can bring is hard to match, and here at The Outdoor Campus, it’s an experience we hope you’ll share with your kids.
P1110105 r
Here are five things hunting can teach children.

1. Just like fishing, a hunter needs to be patient – showing a mature resolve to wait and even be content on those days they return empty-handed. Add onto that the extreme care and responsibility needed for a child to safely handle a firearm, and you have a great opportunity to teach some daily virtues.

2. Hunting has wide-reaching social implications. Learning to network with other hunters about where animals are and asking landowners for permission to hunt can also foster valuable people skills. It also gives people something to talk about and bond over. At the same time, hunting can be a great way to spend some thoughtful time alone.

DSC_00383. Learning about hunting is learning about tradition: the tradition of a culture, a family or even the human race in general. Beyond teaching a child about the value of that tradition, they’re learning about the balance of life and death. This cultivates an understanding of respect – for their history, for the animals and, hopefully, even for their teacher.

4. Walking through the woods, lugging equipment, staying crouched in a field – any of it is better than sinking into your couch cushions. Hunting is a great way to get outside and move around. Even on lighter days, you might feel the incentive to stay in shape with other workouts to make hunting more enjoyable. Either way, hunting is an excellent fitness motivator.

5. Of course, a lesson on hunting wouldn’t be complete until your child understands why we claim a number of game animals. Beyond adding a bit of meat on the table or in the freezer, teaching kids about population control and how hunting tends the land is an important step in cultivating the conservationists who will be taking care of our fields and forests in the years to come.

One great way for kids to learn about hunting - and more - is through our Campus Grad program.

One great way for kids to learn about hunting – and more – is through our Campus Grad program.

Five Great Reasons to take a Kid Fishing

9 Jun Boy fishing the outdoor campus

By Matthew Stoffel

“Your bobber is down! Reel it in, reel it in!”

There’s not a lot as exciting as watching a kid reel in their first fish. Here are a handful of the many great reasons to cast out on the water with a kid.

1) Sitting on a quiet shore or a gently rocking boat is an excellent way to introduce children to the value of patience. Father and son with fish the outdoor campusThe lesson can be priceless since there’s no guarantee of reward – and for that reason, all the more exciting when they set the hook.

2) It can be hard to find the time to unplug from cell phones, TV, video games and social media, but planning a fishing trip requires exactly that. With your attention on the water, you give yourselves the time to focus on each other.

3) The sense of accomplishment that a kid can get from catching their first fish – or their second, third, or 18th – is wonderful to witness, and it encourages them to set goals for bigger or different fish, striving to accomplish those as well.

Girl with worm the outdoor campus4) You haven’t felt fear until you watch a youngster wildly swing a sharp hook overhead. Fishing is a great opportunity for kids to learn personal responsibility, and to be aware of what’s around them. In addition to teaching them fishing and water safety, you can give them their own task like grabbing minnows or keeping track of life jackets – and maybe do yourself a favor by pressing down the barb on their hook. Just in case.

5) Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you not only feed him for a lifetime, but you create one more person who cares about our South Dakota outdoors. The beginning anglers and hunters of today are going to be our conservationists down the road, so get them out there and share the joy of being out on the water. Our trees, our prairies, our lakes and our rivers will thank you.

Netting fish smiles the outdoor campus

Five Fun Things to do in the Park

2 Jun Landscape 8

Looking for something fun to do next time you visit Sertoma Park? You can do these activities seven days a week until 10 p.m. daily!

Bluegill nest - the outdoor campus1. Look for bluegill nests in the pond. Bluegills build round nests out of tiny rocks just off the shore of our pond. The adult fish guard the eggs, so if you look closely you will see them chase off other fish.

2. On hot afternoons, raccoons love taking naps on tree branches. Look up. If you see a flat wide tree branch check for a furry sleeper. They love to sprawl out on the branch and close their eyes.

3. Toads are hatching! Look down along our trails as you walk. Tiny toads that match the dark color of the trail might be hopping underfoot.

4. Turtles are laying eggs. If you see a big snapping turtle digging a hole near one of our trails it’s probably going to be laying some eggs soon. We don’t recommend getting too close to it, but watch it from a safe distance. The Geese

5. Goslings are plentiful in Sertoma Park. They go from cute yellow fuzzy babies to gangly, not-so-cute young geese very quickly. Watch these from a distance, too. Goose parents will warn you when you get too close by hissing like a cat.


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