Involving My Stepson

BR-549

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I don't know if this is the right forum for this but I have a question that maybe some of you parents can help me with. It is about getting my son (stepson) interested in hunting, fishing, camping etc.

A little background. He is 14 and never met his biological father. In fact, he doesn't even know his name. I married his mother when he was 10. He and I clicked very soon in the relationship as you might guess. He took on my last name which made me really happy but I am finding that we may not have the same interest in the outdoors as I had hoped.

Without his mother's full blessing we bought him a Red Ryder BB gun for his birthday and a youth .22 for Christmas year one. I assured her I would teach him gun safety and ethics first and shooting second. She is now onboard and understands my passion and commitment to the sport. She sees that he is learning something valuable and is now Okay with him having guns. He is a natural shooter, the kid impressed me. Right off the bat hitting bulls and busting clays consistently. By age 12 I was very happy about his progress and safety consciousness and allowed him to shoot unsupervised as long as someone was home and knew he was shooting. I did it all the time as a kid, making shots harder or doing something to better my skills. He did the same for awhile but hasn't shot at all this year.

I have taken him deer hunting with me a few times but he generally gets bored and wants to go back to the cabin after about an hour. He likes venison and wants me to be successful but doesn't really care about doing it himself. I have taken him camping and had him help me cook over the fire. I have asked him to "help" me while I am reloading or working on my bow or cleaning a rifle. He normally would rather play his Xbox or ride his bike into town and play at friends houses. I usually give him the option of helping me or going to town and says he wants to do both but always picks going to town.

Of course there is more to it than this but I don't want to get too wordy. I would really like to get him more interested in outdoor activities but I don't want to push him too hard.

When I was younger I was a "big brother" at the local boys club and mentored a six year old fatherless boy and to this day he stays in touch and still likes doing the things we shared.... fishing, hunting etc.

I am pretty strict about the Xbox and watching TV in hopes he will spend more time outdoors.... It doesn't phase him though. He is a good kid, never really gets in trouble. He is polite and has good manners. Could do a little better in school but that will come.

Any advise for a mid-life stepdad who wants to see his son appreciate and benefit from these activities? Should I be a little more firm handed and make him do some of this stuff?

Did I say I would like for him to be more involved?
 

maxx

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You cant make people like stuff they don't. He is at that age that most kids would rather be with there friends and chase girls.

Is he a good kid?

Does he get good grades?

Does he stay out of trouble.

Worry about the things that are important. Hunting is important to you but may not be to him.

On a side note this doesn't mean he wont come around sometime. Keep offering to take him. If he does go make it all about him and try to be successful.

My bosses kids didn't hunt with him through high school and college. Now that they are out of college and grown up they picked it back up again.
 

swmt

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Good advice from max.
I have three stepsons that were about the same age when I first met them. (7 - 11) The oldest and youngest have hunted and fished with me since I first met them but the middle son never expressed an interest in the outdoors. He will occasionally go camping with us but that's about all. Then this last week out of the blue, after 10 years he asked if he could come deer hunting this year. He is moving into his own place and loves to cook and the reality of how expensive good meat played a part, but I will take it. The key with the other two when they were 12 was small steps and make it fun with a high reward / time ratio.
 
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fowladdict

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I agree. Can't always get your kids to like the same things you do. Keep inviting him, and taking him along as much as he willing to go. Never know, maybe he will be 20 years old and suddenly be stoked about it.

Heck...I'm 37 years old and still trying to figure out why people like bowling and golf!!
 

teamhoyt

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I to am in a similar situation with my 13 year old daughter. She too is a good kid but is waaay more into spending time with her friends than she is into hunting, fishing, camping. I think most kids this age are that way to some extent. When she actually gets out there She enjoys it, it's just getting over the fact that she don't need to hang out with her friends every minute of the day that she don't like. I would suggest inviting his friends along with you guys on occasion and who knows maybe it will be just the boost he needs.
 

Nameless Range

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I think maxx has some good advice.

I grew up with a kid who was the son of a rancher who still owns some of the finest elk country in Montana. My friend wanted nothing to do with ranching or hunting. It caused friction with his folks, specifically his father, who would not relent. My friend is one of the greatest guys I know, he's just not into hunting.

Just my advice, but allow your stepson to be himself. Hunting/fishing isn't for everyone, just always leave the door open and try to connect with him via the things he likes. You never know how his interests will change as he grows, and he will appreciate your support of him being himself when he looks back.
 

genesis273

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Like mentioned above, you never know if/when he'll take an interest, but you can't push it. My son and daughter grew up hunting, and loved it. Now that they're 19 and 21, they like seeing me succeed, but they have other interests now. Yea, at first it bothered me, but I remembered that I had done the same thing at that age, but eventually got back into it. Everyone is different. The youth these days just don't have the patience that we once had. If it's not instant, they have nothing to do with it. Now, I just go by myself, but they know that if they take a notion to go, they're more than welcome. If not, so be it.
 

HSi-ESi

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All of the above is great advice. My kids aren't that old yet - so I don't have personal experience with kids those age (mine are 5 and 2). My 5 y/o does go out deer hunting with me - and I keep it very low key. We try to be "quiet", look at lots of deer sign and eat M&M's. We keep those trips to short durations right now (an hour at the most usually). If we're not having fun, we pack it in. The comment on reward / time ratio is spot on.

I have 2 brothers - and growing up 2 of us hunted, 1 decided it wasn't for him. My Dad was great with all of us - spent time focusing on what we loved and not what he loved. So there were days I wanted to hunt, but couldn't because the "non-hunting" brother wanted to do something different. As we got older we could opt out of certain things - if we tried them and didn't like doing it. All of us brothers are still close. I don't resent the "non-hunting time" and he doesn't resent the "hunting time".

This mirrors what I am trying to say:

Just my advice, but allow your stepson to be himself. Hunting/fishing isn't for everyone, just always leave the door open and try to connect with him via the things he likes. You never know how his interests will change as he grows, and he will appreciate your support of him being himself when he looks back.
 

MNElkNut

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I have a few ideas for you (all kind of related).

1. Try different outdoor activities. There are soooo many out there and it maybe sounds like you have tried only a few. I put on a youth outdoor activity day and we have over 30 different outdoor activities for kids to try. I see kids that light up on turkey hunting or fishing, but have little to no interest in deer hunting or whatever. So gauge his interest and try some other related activities....duck hunting, muskie fishing, etc. All of us have a few things that we really like....sounds like you haven't found the one that pushes his buttons yet.

2. How about trips? A Canadian fishing trip? An antelope hunt? Salmon fishing? South Dakota pheasants? Saskatchewan waterfowl? Trips like that really get kids pumped.

3. Just plain ask him. What floats your boat, son? You might be surprised at the answer. Be honest, tell him you want to do more with him. Just you and him. That should make him feel important. What activity would he like to do? But be prepared for the answer. You might find yourself in a quilting class or taking violin lessons!

Lastly, let us know how it goes. I suspect there a few people out there that are in a similar situation.
 

BR-549

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Just wanted to thank all of you for the solid advice.
Pretty much how I feel too. I only have one shot at raising this kid and I want to do the best I can. I confided in what I feel like is an intelligent bunch of people here that I knew would either confirm my thoughts or send me in a good direction.

Would absolutely love taking him (and a friend if he wants) on a DIY elk hunt. Someday hopefully.

Very true about the instant gratification BS.

Golf.... doesn't life present enough frustration? lol

Those are some good ideas ElkNut...I considered taking him on a Lake Erie Walleye charter this year and it didn't materialize but I am going to make it happen next spring. I asked him to write down things that he likes and dislikes.... shooting was on the dislike side :( Honestly I think he was mad at me at the time and was trying to tell me by doing that. We have talked about it since. This weekend we are going to his grandpa's and try some trap shooting. I intend to make it fun for him regardless.

I will absolutely post updates!
 

charliebravo77

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Assuming your Ohio deer hunting is much the same as here in Illinois, I'm guessing the majority of the hunt is spent in a stand or blind. That kind of thing is just absolutely mind numbing for a new hunter (speaking from direct, recent experience) unless there are deer all over the place. I've only been hunting for a couple years now, and I only deer hunt here in IL out of convenience. I'd much rather go spend 3-5 days out west over spending 5 weekends in a stand or blind.

If you are looking to take him hunting and see if he will be hooked, there is probably not a better way than WY pronghorn. It doesn't require waking up at 4AM, there's activity throughout the day, for a non-resident it's about as affordable as it gets, and you can turn it into as little or as much of an adventure as you want.

Assuming you already have decent camping gear for the two of you, a rifle capable of taking deer sized game at 0-400 yards, good binos, and better boots you can hunt doe pronghorn in WY for about $500 start to finish. The biggest cost would be fuel to drive out and back, as a doe pronghorn tag is only $34. Even a buck tag is only $272.

If that doesn't get him hooked on hunting then you might as well just go buy a stack of video games for him.

edit- trap/sporting clays is another good way to get into the outdoors. Keeping a kid (or any new shooter/outdoorsperson) happy is all about near-instant gratification. Most people new to the sports will lose interest easily unless there's a reward for whatever they are participating in, and shooting things out of the sky that explode into a puff of smoke is about as rewarding as shooting gets.
 
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rjlefty3

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I think as a teenager there is the boredom factor about sitting around on a treestand waiting for a couple deer to show. But as others have said, as long as he's doing the right things in school/his life things will work it's way out.

What are some other things he's interested in? Traveling? Photography? Camping? Anything else outdoorsy? Any of those could easily be linked with hunting/fishing in some regard and you'd be together, which is really what it's all about.

I think you're doing the right things, offering them while not being too pushy. He'll decide what he wants to do/avoid, but if you have a good time together it's more likely than not he'll eventually want to do those things again when the teen phase finishes.
 

NoWiser

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Sounds like you are a great dad!

From my observations, either you really like to hunt and fish, or you don't. There really are no tricks to making a person enjoy those activities. That's not to say that in the future he won't end up loving it like you do. I've seen too many times where a parent pushes too hard and it ends up backfiring even more. Your main job for the next few years is to just be as good of a dad as you can and keep him heading in the right direction.

Since he likes doing things with his friends, maybe get them involved, too, if you are comfortable. Have a trap shooting party. It's hard to believe he wouldn't enjoy busting some clays with his buddies whose enthusiasm could rub off on him if they enjoy themselves, too.

Good luck, it sounds like you are doing a great job!
 

RobG

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I was shooting things in my single digit years, but at 14 I was more interested in hanging out with my friends and notsomuch with my parents. I hunted with my friends until I moved away from MT. My new friends didn't hunt so we did other things including playing a lot of space invaders, pacman and asteroids.

Elk hunting might not be all that much fun for him - a friend of mine's son said it was nothing but walking around in the mountains not seeing anything. That WY antelope hunt could be fun...

My early experiences hunting stuck with me and eventually I got back into hunting when I found some friends who did it.
 

Big Slick

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I also have a step son and he likes the outdoors, I think he regrets wanting to play his Xbox instead of wanting to hunt more. Now that he is 25 he is all over me about fishing and hunting. Sometimes we just have to let our sons be who they are and let the rest of it fall into place. I'm sure spending a year in Iraq had something to do with it as we don't know what we are missing until we can't actually do it. Andy
 
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I think someone's teenage years is generally a low ebb for a lot of people hunting because the demands of school, athletics and other activities all take huge amounts of time. I definitely missed a lot of duck and turkey hunts because I ran cross country and track through high school and college and rebounded quite a bit in my hunting after graduating despite ending up a state away from anyone I knew or any place I had to hunt.

My general experience is the people I know who were successful professionals in their 20's didn't have a lot of time to hunt between 15 and 22. I know very few people who hunted hard during those years that ended up as well off as those that hunting briefly over Thanksgiving and Christmas because they were busy with other things.

I don't think you can make people like the outdoors in general if they don't inherently. I think you see that a lot when you go to Boy a scout summer camp the first year for 7-10 days and half of your first year scouts quit by Christmas.

Hunting is a step further than just liking the outdoors because of the extremes of weather, sleep deprivation, time and money involved. When I look at my cousins that all did youth turkey and duck hunts only half do some form of hunting today.

As a father son thing I think it's important to have an activity you do together. I will gladly play golf with my dad as a bonding experience despite the fact the sport doesn't do much for me. It's an activity for us to do together when there is nothing to hunt.
 

BR-549

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Interesting perspectives everyone... I figured this thread would be short lived but please feel free to contribute... no thoughts are unwelcome.

BR
 

RUT JUNKEY

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First of all good on you for stepping up, you don't have to be blood to be a great Dad! I agree with most of the others...keep inviting him to do all those things even if he doesn't go. . .I think eventually he will come around, and if not, well you are still bringing him up right! :)
 

JEL

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I have raised 3 boys. Two of them love hunting and one just doesn't. Wasn't anything different about how they were raised or what they experienced. They are just wired differently. The one that doesn't like to hunt still loves to fish, camp, kayak, etc....hunting just isn't his thing. Never was and I am perfectly fine with that. Once I knew hunting wasn't his thing I made sure to still do stuff with him (like the fishing, hiking, kayaking, camping) so he would still be exposed to all things outdoors.
 

Gellar

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It looks like you have some good advice to go with so far. In my opinion if your stepson enjoyed shooting he may not do it as much or at all now, but 5, 10, maybe 15 years from now he will shoot again and remember how much fun he had. Young adults his age are busy beyond belief and often have time for nothing else. Whatever you do do not push him into something, but if he wants to shoot or hunt or go for a hike or whatever outside drop everything and do it.
 
AMK Sportsman

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