The Case for a Child-Parent Hunt
Wm. Hovey Smith

November 4, 2019

By the end of the third day of Georgia’s Primitive Weapons hunt on Ossabaw Island, I was about done in. I shot a bit of video with my camera a’tilted on its tripod of me reclining against a tree which gave a biased look at the world, but I was too tired to care. On the video I made the statement, “I don’t know if I could have drug a deer out four or five hundred yards back in there.”

At 77, I am not the man I was at 27 or even 57. I have been active all of my life, but the aging process has started to take a noticeable toll on my physical abilities. Although I am in better shape than many of my peers and try to stay that way, degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arterial obstructions, arthritis, joint problems, vision, and hearing loss are having adverse effects on my activities. I can’t carry a pack and walk 13 miles a day through Alaskan brush and mountains as I did as an Exploration Geologist in Alaska. Where once I could throw a 100 pound load on my back and carry it, now I have difficulty even lifting it off the ground. I also have difficulty with balance issues, like maintaining my footing on irregular ground and must be very careful on how and where I place my feet.

I am not complaining, that is just what age does to a guy. I am far from being the only Georgia hunter who is facing similar challenges. The hunting demographic in the state is changing. The Baby Boomer population who were brought up hunting when the state had a much more rural character may still account for the majority of hunters. As they become increasingly unable to hunt their numbers are not being replaced by younger hunters which results in fewer hunters in the woods each year. This means that smaller numbers of licenses are being sold, less revenue for the state, and a general decline in hunting.

My Experiences on Ossabaw Island

Looking at the hunters who were on my hunt, the majority were over 60-years-old. There were a smattering of younger hunters, but “The Old Duffers Brigade” predominated. One hunter who went out for at least two days started out using a crutch. One reason for the number of older hunters was that unlike other Georgia quota hunts the hunters are transported to their assigned hunting areas and do not have to walk, and transport their gear, miles to their hunt sites. This is a welcome accommodation for those who can no longer walk as well as they once did, and is one reason why the Ossabaw hunt remains so popular.

On many of Georgia’s WMA hunts it is not uncommon for these hunts to become family traditions with Grandpa, Son, and Grandson participating. In this case the younger members of the family do much of the physical work of transporting the camp onto the island, setting it up, processing the game for the cooler and getting it home. However, there are others who must go solo either because they have no children or their hunting buddies have died or are not able to participate on the hunt. This was the condition that I found myself in. I did ask for and receive help in setting up camp and some volunteered to help me drag my game out, but telephone service failed; and I could not contact them from my hunt location.

Having hunted Georgia’s islands many times, I have developed some methods to enable me to transport my game more easily. I have converted a mortar tub into a sled which enables me to drag game more efficiently. I field dress my animals in the woods which reduces weight, I use a harness to distribute the drag weight more evenly on the body, and this year I selected hunt sites that were relatively close to the road. This approach was successful. On the first day of my hunt I took a 90 pound sow with a muzzleloading revolver. I could hardly pull it away from the water’s edge so that I did not have to fight an 8-foot alligator for it. Then I field dressed it and drug it on the sled about a mile to the pick-up point on the road. The majority of the drag was on the sandy road, which was much easier than getting it through the woods, over fallen trees, etc. I made arrangements with the driver to pick me up closer to the area where I was hunting to lessen the drag length should I be fortunate enough to get another animal. As it turned out I had a shot opportunity on the second day that I should have taken on smaller hogs, but I was holding out for a larger animal for Bess, my flintlock musket.

At the end of each day’s hunt I found myself having increasingly more difficulties in getting up, getting in the truck, and literally staggering back to my campsite. Although each night’s rest was restorative, I was not recovering full strength. Again with a little aid to take down and fold up a large tarp, I made it off the island. and I also had help getting my gear off the dock and loading up my Ford Ranger for the trip home. You can see my video of the hunt at: . Another hunter had a closer call. He felt himself feeling very weak and left the island the second day of the hunt. The night he arrived home he went to the emergency room where he had a heart attack. He went into surgery, recovered, and is now doing well.

The Proposal

I propose that on quota hunts those who hold Honorary Licenses, available to Georgia residents over 65-years old, be allowed to take a non-hunting assistant on these hunts to help with the physical tasks of setting up camp and processing game. This would be similar to the current Parent-Child hunts except the ages would be reversed. There are presently hunts for holders of Honorary Licenses and for Handicapped Individuals, but these are for the individuals only in the case of Honorary License holders, although I assume that Handicapped Individuals may be assisted on some hunts by DNR personnel or volunteers.

This assistant could be a relative, but anyone who is over 16 should be allowed to assist the hunter. We live is a fast-paced society where many younger people are working multiple jobs, have their own challenges with family life, live in distant places, and do not have the time to take Grandpa hunting, much as they might like to.

The advantages of allowing a non-hunting assistant would be to increase hunter participation by allowing the older segment of the population to hunt longer than they might otherwise, decrease the possibility of a hunter having a heart attack or stroke while hunting, and provide another opportunity to potentially recruit younger people into the hunting population.


Although some actions along this line might be done by the DNR hunt managers on an individual basis, it would likely take legislative action to make this a statewide policy. If you think that this would be a good idea please forward this to your state legislative representatives.

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is the author of some 20 books, including many outdoor titles, a Professional Geologist with current registration in Georgia, a videographer with over 750 YouTube videos on line, a stand-up comedian on outdoor and environmental topics and life-long hunter. Although brought up in Georgia he worked all over North America as an Exploration Geologists. He received his training at the University of Georgia, University of Alaska and took post-grad courses at the University of Arizona and University of Arkansas. In the meantime he has written about hunting related topics in many outdoor magazines and just ended a 10-year stent as Black Powder Editor for the Gun Digest Annual.