Family hunting at its best

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

My 14-year old boys Jackson and Nicholas just experienced the hunting trip of a lifetime.

The three of us and my brother-in-law Russ spent three days hunting a private lease in south Texas last week. Click to view photos from our hunt.

We had been planning this trip for awhile. The boys love to hunt, so I told them that if they could keep up with school work and get good grades, I’d take them with me.

They’re good students but this provided added incentive.

Once we arrived, we were joined by Strike King Owner John Barnes, lure designer Phil Marks and fellow Strike King pro Greg Hackney. Marks and Hack helped me ensure the boys had a quality hunting trip, which made it even special for them because they are huge Hack Attack fans. It wasn’t so much about hunting for us as it was ensuring the boys had a quality and safe hunt.

I wanted the trip to expose them to a variety of big game and terrain that they never see in Michigan.

Mission accomplished.

Jackson shot an 8 pointer, Nicholas a 9 pointer and Russ got a nice deer, too. The kids shot hogs, birds, ducks, a coyote and another guy in camp killed a rattlesnake.

I was a little concerned that long days of hunting and nights spent around camp might test the patience or be too much for a couple of 14-year-olds, but they couldn’t get enough of it and didn’t want to come home.

As any hunter knows, the camaraderie on a trip like this is just as much fun as the hunt. We sat around at night grilling steaks, chicken and quail on an open mesquite fire, enjoying fantastic food and sharing stories from the day’s activities. It was another perspective of a hunting trip that the boys will always remember.

There are some giant deer on this lease, but we were after some nice management deer. I didn’t want to spoil the boys by letting them kill a big one at such a young age. I also wanted them to gain an appreciation as to how special that place is.

The trip totally changed their view of deer hunting. Once they saw property that has been well managed, they realized the importance of solid conservation and deer management practices.

They now have a better understanding why we let the smaller bucks walk on our Michigan hunting grounds and shoot a few does to keep population in check.

Of course, they want to go back and kill a trophy. They’re even talking about adding their own “trophy room” at the house. Click to view photos from our hunt.

I spent a few days at home this week then I flew into North Carolina Thursday to emcee Ryan Newman’s Charity bass tournament with Mark Zona.

It’s a big event that attracts other NASCAR stars like Tony Stewart and Martin Truex as well as several Bassmaster Elite pros. In addition to the tournament, there will be a dinner with an auction and proceeds going to Newman’s charity foundation.

Hanging out with Bassmaster buddies and NASCAR drivers is always fun. We may excel in different professions, but we all share a love for fishing and competition.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

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