By: Tom Claycomb III

Photos by the Author

It’s human nature that when you love something, you want to share that experience with those you love. So, it’s only natural that if you love the outdoors, you want to enjoy outdoor experiences with your kids, wife, girlfriend, or a good buddy. Because you spend your free time outdoors, they have to become outdoor people or there’s a big part of you that they will never know.

We covered a lot of areas in the above paragraph. Let’s break it down and figure out how to make sharing the outdoors happen.


I had the best mom and dad in the world. Dad took us, kids, everywhere with him. He gave us a BB gun when we hit 6 years old, a pellet gun sometime after that, and a shotgun when we hit the ripe old age of 10 years. When I was 6 or 7 years old, he let me put one shell in my sister’s double barrel and dove hunt. So, I started shooting a shotgun before I could even reach the trigger. I’d hold the stock under my arm like Granny on the Beverly Hill Billy’s. I was deer hunting by the time I was 10. And dad gave us a .22 when we were 12.

I think it’s a mistake on F&G’s part to make kids wait until they’re 12 to hunt. By that age, they’re little soccer-playing city dwellers and almost off on their own. Start them hunting young. Sure, dad hunted hardcore with his buddies, but he’d take us with them way over half the time.

In those days, good outdoor clothing for kids did not exist. We kids froze. Now, there are all manner of warm clothing, gloves, boots, etc. for kids. My dad shot a 30-06 with 180 gr. bullets. As a little skinny 9-year-old, they’d about knock me out of my tree. No one knew better back then, but now we know to buy kids lighter-grain ammo. We also know to use a butt pad, which we’d never heard of back then.

I’m big on buying kids a real gun that they can grow into, but now they have all manner of youth-sized guns. Of course, back then no one had enough money to buy a gun their kid would only use for 3-5 years and then outgrow. But that is an option these days.


Airguns are a great way to start kids shooting. I bet 95% of the people reading this article started on airguns. They don’t kick, they’re not loud, and they don’t travel as far. So, if kids make a mistake, hopefully, no one dies. But make no mistake about it, the modern airgun is not little Ralphie’s Red Ryder! They’re real guns. Some of my airguns spit out pellets at 1,450 fps. Remember, a .22 only travels at 1,250 fps.

Starting little girls with airguns is great due to no noise or recoil. I know, I’m the proud daddy of all girls. Umarex labeled 2022 as “The Year of the Airgun.” Take advantage of it.

Another big benefit of starting kids on airguns is that if they don’t want to kill an animal, they can shoot without killing. My youngest doesn’t want to hunt but she goes shooting with me all the time. She’s mainly my fishing buddy. We go backpacking and fly fishing often. As a writer, I get to hunt and fish all over, yet backpacking/fly fishing with my daughter is the highlight of the year for me.

So, what if they don’t want to hunt? No big deal, just get them into shooting. There are a quadrillion cool spinners, flippers, and shooting galleries for airguns. As long as your kids are shooting with you, who cares why? At the least, they now know how to defend themselves. My wife goes hunting with me a bit but seldom actually hunts. But she shoots; she is now a lot better shot with a pistol than I am.

I’m big-time into airguns. Umarex has a plethora of options. Here’s what I’d suggest. If their small kids start them off with CO2. I don’t have any small kids anymore but I’d think by about 10 they should be able to operate a break barrel. They’re the simplest and cheapest to operate.

Don’t buy a .177. The .22 cal. has much better killing properties which will be important when the kids start hunting. And when they get serious about shooting and accuracy, get them some JSB pellets. I think that I’ve tested nearly every manufacturer of pellets on the market and JSB hands-down has the most accurate pellets.


I love it when my wife goes grouse hunting with me. On this hunt she shot the first grouse.

OK, guys, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes we can be a bit mentally slow. I mean caveman slow! When I first started dating my wife, she’d go bowhunting with me all of the time. Then when we got married, I took her everywhere with me. I treated her like one of the guys. I hit it hardcore and about killed her. Don’t be stupid. Learn from my mistakes. More than likely, she is going outdoors to be with you. Don’t rag on her or overdo it. Trust me on this one. All she wants to do is be with you and build a relationship. Honor that.

I’ve been married 37 years and wished I had taken it easier on her in the beginning. When you take your woman or kids out with you, make it fun for them. If you like eating pickled pigs’ feet or some other weird item, save those for when you’re by yourself. Take some good snacks that all can enjoy.

If they’re getting tired, slow down a minute. Think about it like this. She wants you to go to the mall shopping. You don’t want to be there but you go to be with her and protect her. What if she didn’t let you stop and get a latte’, an Orange Julius, and maybe a cookie? It’d be a miserable trip, wouldn’t it? You’re just going to be with her. Same scenario with her going elk hunting in the mountains.

I hit it hardcore when I’m outdoors. When elk hunting, I get up two hours before daylight, drag back to camp well after dark, and then I whip up dinner. After this long “day,” if the temps are down around 0 degrees, you don’t get much sleep. By day three, I’m so sore that I can barely get out of my sleeping bag. That may not be the hunt for her. You get my drift, take it easy on your woman. Don’t treat her like one of the guys.


The look says it all. I love backpacking/flyfishing with my daughter.

Ok, I have frequent flying miles at the local Emergency Room. I counted the other day and recalled at least 20 times that I’ve been knocked out from getting hooked by bulls, stomped by horses, thrown through car windows, crushed under flipped four-wheelers, or injured in fights. As my daughter would say, “Daddy, you’re not exactly known as Captain Safety.” But with guns, safety is a big deal.

There is no room for error with guns. As the old Winchester saying goes, “All the pheasants ever bred cannot repay for one man dead.” So, if you take an adult hunting let them know up front that you’re going to be anal about safety. Imagine an adult at 30 who had never driven a car and wanted to learn how to drive. You wouldn’t just toss them a set of car keys, would you? No! You’d deal with them like they were 16 years old – same with guns.

While on the subject of “ADULTS,” every time I go hunting with a new buddy I am constantly amazed by learning a new trick or two about how to hunt, catch more fish, or some new ideas on camping. So don’t forget to be learning yourself.


If you’re mentoring someone who has never even shot a gun, take them out shooting a few times before the hunt. If they don’t know how to hold a gun, squeeze a trigger, and a muy grande buck steps out on the first hunt, that would take a lot of coaching all at once on game day. They need to have practiced enough to feel comfortable and confident.

Prepare them to know the clothing they need or that can bomb a trip. Not being outdoorsmen, they may not know how cool it gets at sunrise/sunset. Or if you’re going on a high mountain trip, the weather can change in a hot second. A hunt may go from T-shirt weather to 8-inches of snow in one day. If you’re camping, do they have a sleeping pad? Is their sleeping bag adequate?

If you’re on the water fishing, do they have polarized sunglasses? Did they bring sunscreen? Rain gear? Should they bring sandals due to wading while pushing out the boat? You get my drift. Let them know what gear you use and what works for you.


When hunting with newbies, don’t take all of the first shots; let them have some. Praise them even if their first deer is only a doe or a spike. Be patient and take it easy, who knows, your wife/kids may become your best hunting buddies. What’s cooler than that?