Cleo and Dakota's bounty
The picture above is of 13 year old Dakota Capwell. Dakota is an amazing young man. He is a talented black belt who trains at my boyfriends Mixed Martial Arts School in the Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley. Dakota's father Bill has always encouraged him to hunt and has worked hard at fostering an environment where Dakota can get exposed to various kinds of game including upland hunting. This morning Jim and our GSP Cleo guided a preserve hunt for Bill and Dakota.
It was a chilly 20 degrees when they set out but they had a good morning with Cleo finding and pointing 8 birds, 4 of which Dakota shot and Bill as the second gunner brought in 2. Jim raved about how well Dakota did. But Dakota is no stranger to hunting. Last year at the age of 12 Dakota won a hunting contest, receiving the grand prize of a trip to Africa.
Dakota at the age of 12 with his Zebra
Dakota and Bill spent 2 weeks hunting in Africa. While there Dakota took a Zebra, two Blesbok's, a Springbok, an Impala, a Wildebeest, an Orux and a Kudu. The picture that won Dakota the Africa trip is also listed below, its a monster Elk he bagged at the age of 11! Someday when Dakota is much older I have no doubts that he will look back fondly at the time spent with his Dad hunting. And hopefully he will one day work as hard as his father to expose his children to the same joys he had in the fields and woods.
Dakota and his Springbok
Dakota and his father Bill Capwell and his first Blesbok
Dakota and his Wildebeest
Keeping hunting traditions alive in this country start with educating and awakening the spirit in our children. It is essential to the survival of upland hunting and hunting in general to get kids interested at a young age. Most large preservation organizations in this country like Pheasants Forever and Quails Forever realize this all too well and work tirelessly to engage kids in upland hunting by sponsoring youth hunts. And it's up to us to come and bring the dogs to work with them and make the time to expose our kids to these experiences.
Dakota and Bill with his Oryx
Dakota and Bill with his White Blesbok
Dakota and his Dad Bill with his Impala
By starting children out hunting young it instills in them the proper care and safe habits of guns, the responsibility of preserving the great outdoors, it gets them off the couch and away from video games into the fields and woods, it allows them to see and be apart of the process of gathering your own food which is an experience most Americans today never have, it allows them to take pride in accomplishing something that takes skill and patience and it allots them sacred and valuable time with the big people in their lives.
Dakota and his Kudo
Dakota's monster elk taken at age 11 in New Mexico
Taking time to expose youth, both boys and girls to the joys of hunting is ensuring that there will be a future for this great sport. It's also what builds traditions and fond memories. I know that Jim got a great sense of satisfaction today watching Dakota hunt. He recanted for me how nicely he responded to a double wild flush, quickly having to choose which pheasant to take. And although Jim won't be upland hunting on Monday, Jim will be venturing off into the woods to deer hunt with his 21 year old daughter Samantha who is home from college. I'm pretty sure nothing means more to him then getting to spend that time in the woods with her.
Another bull elk taken earlier this year by Dakota with a muzzleloader in
New Mexico at the age of 13
Dakota has been very lucky and most kids won't get the chance to hunt some of the things that he has, but exposing kids to even the simplest joys of the outdoors will be fruitful to the next generation.