FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. — Most hunters and fishermen know the importance of getting their children into the woods early in life. There’s also the understanding success on those outings will need to be measured with a different set of standards. A short attention span, low tolerance for the cold, and a tendency to talk, ask questions, and move around can often impair the opportunity to bag game. Those circumstances would most impair a turkey hunt where silence and stillness are paramount.
Despite those potential setbacks, Shon Butler of French Creek and his wife threw caution to the wind and took their little girl Jasi to the turkey blind every time they went this season.
“She does quite well. She’s been hunting with us ever since she was born,” Butler told West Virginia Outdoors. “We even took her the first turkey season she was alive because we didn’t want to be sitting at home while everybody else was out having fun. We just bundled her up and took her with us.”
Butler admitted the first couple of years were tough. Two year old Jasi had a tendency to move and talk a lot. However, just before the 2018 spring gobbler season, Jasi turned three and she had a whole new attitude.
“Over the off season we watched hunting videos and showed her how hunters sat against trees in full camouflage and they were quiet,” said Butler. “She just took to that really well.”
Butler also ditched a full sized blind which had been cumbersome and ineffective. Instead, he used a much smaller umbrella blind and hauled is hunting buddy with him to the woods on the first Friday of the season. Jasi sat quietly beside her dad as he called in two birds and took one in Randolph County.
“At the shot, she jumped right up and yelled, ‘Yay Dad got one.'” said Butler. “She sat there with me and was very quiet and luckily those birds only took about five minutes to come in.”
A few days later, the father-daughter duo hit the woods again in Upshur County. Shon carried Jasi on his shoulders to the top of a ridge where they sat down to listen. Jasi fell asleep on his lap, even though a bird was coming.
“He came to within seven yards of the decoy with her asleep,” explained Shon. “I shot him and he flopped almost down to where we were and she never flinched.”
Jasi was also along days later when her mother took a spring gobbler. Like the first two encounters, she was attentive, quiet, and watched the hunt unfold with interest. After seeing her parents take down three birds, Shon knew her days as a spectator may soon be over.
“She’s already pressing for a shotgun of her own. We were looking at .410’s especially with the innovation of the Tungsten Super Shot shells,” he said. “She may be hunting herself by the time she’s four years old.”
Whatever happens, chances are Jasi is hooked for life. Butler admitted, that’s not a bad thing.
“She goes turkey hunting, deer hunting, and she enjoys squirrel hunting,” he explained. “I wish more parents were doing this. You can do it, it just take a little time and this is how we pass on our hunting heritage.”