It’s tough to envision anything more rewarding than introducing kids to the outdoors, so when Michael Burkhard of Mooresville recently asked his friend Jonathan Beller to go on an Iredell County raccoon hunt, they took the opportunity to show Beller’s 10-year-old daughter, Tyler, what the outdoor life is all about. 

Tyler actually got her first taste of hunting back in November, when she harvested her first doe, and Beller said something about the action of raccoon hunting appealed to her immediately. 

“He (Burkhard) asked if we would like to tag along, and my only condition was that Tyler be able to carry a gun and take at least one shot. If her aim was bad or if she was too nervous, I didn’t want her firing multiple shots into the air,” said Beller.

Before long, Burkhard’s dogs had a raccoon treed, and rather than simply go along with Beller’s request to let his daughter take a shot at the coon, Burkhard took the time to give Tyler the full experience of coon hunting.

“He was very patient, and showed Tyler how to use the GPS tracking device to locate the dogs,” said Beller.

Once the group caught up with the dogs, they spotted the raccoon in the tree. Tyler readied for the shot. Despite the noise and activity of the dogs, she couldn’t have done better, said Beller.

“It was a very chaotic scene with the dogs going crazy and me trying to give instructions. To our surprise, her aim was true, and she brought down the raccoon with her first shot,” he said.

She enjoyed the whole experience so much, she wanted to do it again. 

“She beamed with excitement, and exclaimed ‘Daddy can we do that again!?’” her dad said.

In short order, the dogs had another coon treed, and Tyler repeated her earlier performance. While Beller couldn’t be happier with his daughter’s first raccoon hunting trip, he took things a step further to stress to Tyler that hunting is about much more than killing.

“We are not ones to kill for the sake of killing, so we skinned out the raccoon hides, and they are currently being tanned. We are going to use the first to make Tyler a barrel-style hand warmer for her future deer hunts,” he said.

“If you get a chance to take a kid hunting, do it!” said Beller.

-Click here to share your story of how you got started hunting, or how you helped a kid learn about the outdoors.