The Christmas Buck


Here’s a story from last year’s archives.


Picture this:  You’re in the deer stand with your son. You’ve (again) done just about everything wrong — you’ve arrived far far too late and a massive (of course) herd of deer scattered from the the little field that had just served them a delicious Christmas dinner. As you climbed into the deer stand, you dropped your new Christmas flashlight (a heavy maglight) and it clanked all the way down the metal ladder, your hunting-intense son is on the verge of tears (thank God he doesn’t swear – yet), oh, and did I mention that you’ve locked the keys in the truck? Other than that, things look pretty good given you’ll only have to be here for a mere 45 minutes to an hour because it’s so darned dark because you’re so darned late and your kid is so darned mad.



Deep breath. Another sigh. It’s a spectacularly beautiful location. The temperature is perfect. You’re with your son. The sun has set and it’s that wonderful still twilight we seldom stop to enjoy. Life is, in this moment, perfect. The rest of the drama can wait (it always does).


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, hunting, whitetail, hunting whitetail, buck



True confession: I was dosing. I had decided that the chances of our seeing anything other than a squirrel were miniscule, so after absorbing our surroundings and the moment, I could relax. Analogous with so many things in life, it happened.


Expect it when you least expect it.




That’s what my brothers used to say in that menacing tone as a threat (and it did have a visceral effect on yours truly — until I was old enough to know better)…that’s what my mother said when I said there was nobody in the world that would ever be the one…that’s what our sage old neighbor said about so many good things that happen in life.


Expect it when you least expect it.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, hunting, whitetail, hunting whitetail, buck

…of course this is a stock photo. Do you really think I had the wherewithall to have had the big camera (and not drop it down the metal ladder too)? But ask my son, our buck was bigger, oh yea, WAY bigger than this one.


Out walked the most perfect specimen of a whitetail buck I’ve seen in a long time. Without a sound, he tiptoed into the field —  a spectacular 10 point buck with his signature white fur around his black nose and his majestic antlers framing his face and broad shoulders better than the finest gilded frame.


“He smells us”, I told my son. “He won’t be here long.”


But he was. He graced us with his perfection for a few minutes — walking, sniffing the air, stopping regularly and looking around. He knew something was nearby — but he wanted a little Christmas dinner too — so he stuck around. And then, as quietly and suddenly as he had appeared, he vanished into the dark woods.



We weren’t there for a buck — we were under specific instructions NOT to shoot a buck. Today is for does, I’m afraid. Yes, we were there for venison for the freezer. Of course my son was beside himself — we had seen “The Phantom”! (Yep, he’s famous on this farm.) But this was a great lesson: we’re not there for a trophy — that trophy belongs where he is in this moment — healthy, robust, and in charge of his element. He has a job to do and he’s the right guy for the job. In a way, he gave us a perfect present: his presence. Who knows if we’ll ever see The Phantom again, except on the trail camera (the only place he’s ever been spotted). But he just made our hunting season.


Addendum to this story 2018….The Phantom HAS been spotted. He’s as magnificent as ever.





Choosing the Right Puppy

Here’s a post out of the archives that’s relevant at any time of the year!


If you’re thinking about getting a new pup, now is a great time to start your process. If you can pull it off, you’re perfectly set to have your new puppy just in time for the summer when, the pup can have plenty of time with you and your family. Just plain face time is absolutely necessary in creating that bond you’ll enjoy your pup’s whole life.


But before you run out and snatch up the first cute little writhing, licking, wagging ball of energy you see, read this post carefully. You need to be extra thoughtful as you make your choice — it’s easy to get drawn in by cuteness…and cuteness grows up. You need to know what you’re getting.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Pets, puppy


I did a show some years back for the Outdoor Life Network where we followed a guy who wanted a puppy and decided to start from scratch on breed, color, lineage, the works. He had no idea of what he wanted, so we went to the famous bird dog expert, Mr. Delmar Smith of Oklahoma. Delmar has long been considered to be one of the all-time greats in the history of bird dog training and breeding and it was an honor to talk with him. In the interview about choosing a puppy, he laid it on the line: “If you want a puppy, don’t ever look at puppies! Look at the mama and the daddy.” His words verbatim.


(Geez Louise. That’s precisely what my grandmother used to say to my brothers about choosing a wife … “so she’s cute now. Hot, even. But look at her mom – if mama’s mean, nutty, neurotic, crazy, or a combination of all of that – your cutie might just turn into her.”  Hey, lighten up – I didn’t say it, my grandmother did. But I have to admit, but there’s something to it…)


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Pets, puppy


So Delmar Smith was tough when it came to puppies.  Truth is, if you look at any pup, you’ll want it; but it might be the wrong dog for you. (Take a look at the cute puppies in the two above pictures: $1500 Whippets…but they sure don’t look like Whippets at this stage! And do you want a Whippet or a Shepherd or a Lab?) Lets take this a step further:  let’s say you know what breed you want and even the price is right for the litter you found in the newspaper. Now you load the kids up, head to the address and there are the puppies – fuzzy, cute, cheerful…OK, that one does have a little white spot on his chest (even though they’re supposedly black labs). Now your kids are crying because they want the little one with the white spot on his chest…stop the presses! Didn’t you listen to Delmar Smith? Don’t look at the puppies. Ask to see the mother.


There she is. Timid (not good if you want a confident dog – often the pups will take on her personality traits). A long pointy snout. (Hmmm.) A hooked tail (the wrong way….Oh my. Not exactly like a lab…) WAKE UP! You could end up with a white-spotted, pointy-snouted, hooked-tailed, timid house dog. (Oh, you wanted her for hunting. Yea, right.)


If you want a puppy, make out a checklist. Ask these questions:


  • FIRST AND FOREMOST:   Am I and ALL of my family OK with a dog that sheds? (THIS alone could narrow your search tremendously)
  • do I want a pet or a hunting companion
  • If I want a hunter, do I want pointing or retrieving
  • do I want house dog/hunter, or a full-on hunter (who might not care about inside)
  • do I want a KIDS dog
  • do I have lots of room for a hyper dog, or do I need a laid back type
  • I’m in the city, which dogs do well as city dogs?

Now go look for parent dogs that meet your criterion. When you’ve found the perfect parents, chances are, you’ve found the perfect pup.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Pets, puppy




How to Make a Sock Pony


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse

Here’s a present that’s timeless — and remarkably easy to do.


Several years ago, I decided to replicate the sock pony I had as a little girl —  only I don’t have the pony any more, so I had to go on memory. My sock pony was a labor of love by my godmother who was an expert with a needle and thread.  So when I decided to launch my labor of love (I was heading into making four of them), I had to come to grips with one thing: I, in fact, am NOT an expert with a needle and thread. My point in telling you this is simple — if I can do it, you can too.


So let’s go!


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse


Here’s what you’ll need.

– 1 pair of cotton/wool blend socks (cotton is easier to work with than 100% wool)


– brown felt (for the eyes and nostrils)


– thin “furry” (almost like moleskin) fabric for the ears. This needs to have a little substance to it because they need to “stand up” like horse ears


– brown ribbon (preferably with white stitching) for the bridle


– 10 inches of frilly black ribbon for his mane


– 2 black shiny buttons (for the eyes)


– about 6 inches of narrow red ribbon (for his mouth)


– about 2 feet of woven cord (for the reins)


– spun polyester fill (to stuff the sock)


– about 5 inches of thick vinyl tape (I used a cheap old belt from Goodwill. This is to close the bottom of the sock and to attach it to the broomstick)


– about 12 upholstery tacks


– one old broomstick



So here’s what you do. I stuffed the sock so I knew where to glue the nostrils and background for his eyes. Then glue the nostrils and eyes in place.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse


While the glue dries (it won’t take but a few minutes with the glue gun), sew his mouth on, then his button eyes.


Sew his mane down his neck (make sure you start where it’ll be between his ears and not behind them! You don’t need a horse with a receding hairline.)


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse


Here’s the hard part: sew his ears on. What I did was fold the material over on itself, then formed a cone shape out of it and sewed it on, tucking the edges under to keep the ears up.


Now sew his bridle on.  I just did a tight x stitch at the key points on the bridle, the rest I left alone. So drape the ribbon over his head and stitch at each temple (just under the ears) and then at his bit Then do another loop around his nose and stitch where the ribbon passes under the sides already in place. Now tie a little knot in the end of each end of your cord for the reins, then sew the knot onto the bridle at the top of his mouth. (Those knots are his bit!)


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse


It’s time for his broomstick! Using the vinyl tape, close the end of the sock onto the broomstick (be sure the end of the broomstick goes all the way up to between his ears) and tack the tape in place all the way around the broomstick.


Now he needs reins. Just make sure you measure carefully. To do this, drape the cord over the back of his head resting on the broomstick where you’d like it to hang normally. Cut and knot the ends, and stitch them to ends of his mouth.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse


You go, cowpoke! You’ve just made a sock pony!


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, kids toys, sock pony, sock horse






Alligator Hall’s own Peach Chutney


It’s nearly peach season!

Here’s to the chutney that won the most discerning palate…


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning


I have the most amazing uncle. Aside from being a Navy test pilot, one of the pilots known as “Satan’s Kittens” in Korea (this group went on to become the Blue Angels), a survivor of being catapulted from an aircraft carrier into the North Atlantic in his airplane, and then a commercial fisherman in the Pacific northwest, Uncle Pete also is a chutney expert. He’s traveled all over the world — and always comes home with interesting recipes for relishes and chutneys.


There’s only one problem with having Uncle Pete come to visit: he cleans me out of chutney. This I take as the greatest compliment there is — especially from him. (He even found the stash I’d hidden from him — and insisted on taking it home! “You know how to make the stuff” he reasoned with me.) I’ve decided to post the recipe — maybe his neighbors can make it for him too!


It’s an adaptation of an old Charleston chutney recipe from the turn of the century — and with a little tweaking, it’s stood the test of time.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning

The Great Annual Peach Weigh-in




  • 4 lbs                Mangos or peaches (hardish/greenish – just before ripe)
  • 2 T                   Mustard seed (not ground)
  • 1 lb                  Preserved ginger (candied works great). Minced.
  • 2 lb                  Sugar
  • 4 cups             Vinegar  (cider has more flavor/white is not as strong)
  • 1 ½ cups         Raisins (I like dark brown – but yellow are fine as well)
  • 1 clove            garlic (use a fat one). Crushed.


Peel and dice fruit.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning


Add 2 cups vinegar and boil 25 minutes.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning

Add the sugar and the other 2 cups vinegar and boil until it’s syrupy (not too thick – just like maple syrup). This will take a while…about 3 ½ hours – stir often towards the end to make sure it doesn’t burn.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning








Add the rest of the ingredients except the ginger and cook another 30 minutes. Then add the chopped ginger and cook another 10-15 minutes. Make sure now the consistency is more like jam.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning

Pour into prepared jars.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning


Make sure lids are on tight, then put in boiling bath for 10 minutes.


Some say it’s even better if you leave the jars in the sun for a few days (put them on a sheet in the yard — put them on their sides to the lids don’t rust from dew).  Now lock the gate to your backyard, Uncle Pete might see them!

Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Cooking and Grilling, Chutney, Peach, Canning

What Mother Really Wants


My brood. I’m the mom in the middle hidden by yet another kid.

This is a completely self serving post, but hey, Mothers Day only comes once a year, and, umm, anyway, I’m actually writing this on behalf of all the great moms out there. (Yeah, that’s it! I’m writing selflessly on behalf of all moms. That’s it! Whew.)


So what does mom really want?? Allow me to make a few suggestions…


First a word of advice if you’re a guy:

IF YOU’RE A GUY… DON’TDO NOTPOSITIVELY DO NOT GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO GET. That mantra is for women as it relates to things like hostess gifts, etc. It’s a female to female thing (or a male to male thing) — and when a man gives to a lady something he’d like to receive, most often it’s not going to be a hit. She generally doesn’t want a garden hose…or a skill saw….or a tire iron…or even a gift certificate to a hardware store. The key is to ASK her! Ask her to make 3 or 4 suggestions for different things that might be nice for her to receive. She may say, “oh, darling, nothing”. Take it from me, she doesn’t mean it. If you gave her nothing as she says, you’re guaranteed to hurt her feelings. You don’t have to do much, but DO LET HER KNOW YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT HER.


Okay, now, that’s behind us.


As you know, there are innumerable ways to go on Mother’s Day — so we’ll break them into two categories. The “things you can DO” category, and the “things you can GIVE” category. I’ll give you three suggestions for each.


Three things you might DO for her on Mother’s Day:

1.  Take Initiative: Wash her car or pull some weeds. There’s got to be some obvious thing that you know she’d appreciate your doing — without having to ask you to do it. Taking that little bit of initiative goes a long way. Once she sees what you’ve done, you’re a rock star and model husband/child/sweetheart.

2.  Put on the chef apron and grill/cook away! AND THEN CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF.  Plenty of moms loves the idea of taking a break from the kitchen — especially the clean up part afterward. If you’re a griller, the go to it! Be sure to be thoughtful about what she likes…remember, this is to let her know you’re thinking about HER. So don’t make your favorite steak tartar if she doesn’t love it!

3.  Surprise her! Take her to a park, or on a hike, or biking, or paddling, or anything outside where you and she can breathe! And talk! And enjoy each other! Rather than a movie or something indoors, get outside and be active with a picnic basket or just a little snack in a pack and take the time to enjoy each other.  Time outdoors doesn’t cost a penny, and the rewards are over the top.


OK, now, three things you might GIVE her on Mother’s Day. Obviously, this can be small with a small price tag, or crazy expensive, it’s up to you. The key, however is what I’ve said all along, whatever you do, really think about her and what she might like. It’s about letting her know you’ve thought about HER.


1.  Give her something that the two of you can enjoy together.  For example, if she has expressed an interest in going fishing, or hunting with you, then get her a rod, reel, or maybe something like a camo jacket (it’s off season for hunting, so you might even get a good deal). Then write her a card that shows you want her to join you on your next trip out. Use words like, “for our fishing trip”…or “looking forward to fishing/hunting with you”. The key is that she knows you’re in this with her.

2.  Give her an “adventure” trip. Huh? This doesn’t have to mean a trip to the wilds of Alaska, it might just mean an overnight trip to the mountains nearby, or to the ocean that’s a days drive away. And it doesn’t have to be a long trip — it might just be for a day, or overnight, or sure, longer! Getting out of the familiar world to head into the outdoors is so darned healthy that I can’t even write about it well. Sunlight, open air, and a little exertion makes a person feel great — so sure, you can spend some on a massage for her, but why not just join her on a big walk on the beach, or a little hike in the hills. Once again, you’re showing you’re thinking about her and what’s going to make her feel good.

3. Of course, there’s always the fallback: jewelry. Click here to read Listen Guys! Women Love Baubles  — the post I wrote about jewelry for women. It could cost between $5 and well….a lot. They key here is to make sure you’re — once again — really thinking about her and what she likes and might actually enjoy.


No matter what, just make sure you do one thing on Mother’s Day: take her aside and tell her how much you appreciate her. That’s what she want’s most of all.







The Secret to the Perfect Picnic



I’ve just left a very special place — an historic hunting and fishing club in the mountains of PA that was established in 1871 and still today maintains its grace and simplicity. There’s a lot to learn from the folks who have been members here for generations — about marksmanship, casting a flyline, etiquette, — and how to do a picnic right. No, seriously, these folks know how to picnic. All of us can take a page out of their picnicking playbook and gain a ton.


Just the baskets are about style.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic


OK, I’m sold. But some like it cold…


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic

Then comes the practical —


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic

OK, nothing all that new.


But THIS is. And THIS is the point of this post: the most important and useful thing in the picnic basket I saw at this club is something you can’t cook with, or serve on, or pour into…

Think about it: we’ve all done it. You get everything packed up, you load up the kids, the friends, the spouse, the dogs, the charcoal…you drive to the picnic area…and OH NO! You forgot the — (you fill in the blank).



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Picnic


Uh huh! THIS was in the picnic basket. So smart!


We should all make our own versions of this list, laminate it, and put it in our picnic baskets. By the way, plenty of folks keep their picnic baskets/boxes packed all the time; in other words, their supplies are organized in the box at all times, so nobody is rushing around checking off the items on the list at the last minute. Simple stuff, but a great lesson for us all. And hey, now we have a list!



Antique Trophies


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, antique trophy, lifestyle, decor


If you’re lucky, you’ve got a few old trophies around: great grand-somebody’s golfing trophy or dog show trophy or crew or whatever. Do you have any idea what it’s worth? It’s well worth taking a look…just poking around on ebay revealed that a trophy of good quality and in good condition can bring thousands of dollars, even more.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, antique trophy, lifestyle, decor


Quite frankly, I just like them. I like they way they look — the loving cups (the two handled trophy) are the most common. Look for hand-engraved inscriptions (you’ll know it’s hand engraved because it’s more pronounced — deeper into the silver): hand engraved appears darker than machine engraved.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Decor, trophies



But if you’re sentimental, or just plain like the way it looks and want to keep it, then for crying out loud — put it out! If you’re able to find one in a junk shop, take a look at the bottom to see if it’s plate or sterling. Either way, it’ll be fun to have — but plate versus silver will certainly impact the price.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Lifestyle, Decor, trophies


I have a friend who has an entire collection of antique trophies. She started with just two of her grandfather’s dog trial trophies. It grew significantly from there, largely by her poking around antique shops and looking for tarnished forgotten treasures in dusty corners. She just had it appraised…now that performance is worth a trophy and a half!






Gotta Love…Cowhides!


For many, cowhide is associated with the decor of the American West  — well we say, think again. We have cows here at Alligator Hall. There are cows just outside of Palm Beach. Cows live within miles of New York City. Hey, cows even live in the suburbs of LA. So why are cowhide rugs relegated to the west? Sure, we all love the Dallas/Santa Fe/Jackson Hole look, but quite frankly, cowhide is mainstream, versatile, and a great addition to any room — no matter where you are.


Right now, I have a cowhide rug in my boys playroom…and because it’s practically invisible because of the legos, I’ve decided to spare you the picture. But take a look at where cowhide can take a room —

 Picture 1


Whoever thought of cowhide as sweet and feminine?
(I hope the cow was a she…)
Cowhide on an ottoman is a layup, how about on a gold-brushed antique French chair…
or a modern chair…
Or these chairs!
even on a bar…(how great is this place!)
I put this in just to say, see! Hello South Beach, or LA, or NYC or Chicago…


We can go all over the map with cowhide. Here is a traditional home that used Williamsburg colors with hide…

Here’s a home in DC
There are thousands of pictures we can find that give you the idea that cowhide is mainstream. Like antlers, mounts, and so many other earthy things that we hunters and outdoorspeople bring into our homes, remember cowhide as an option as well. It’s a favorite of mine!

Venison 101: Fresh Herb Rub

It was a darned good deer season here on the farm. My older son takes his job as hunter gatherer quite seriously — all the way to the last day of the season (youth day)…and as a result, we have a LOT of venison in the freezer. Yes!


Now what to do it some of the best meat in the world…., , here’s a recipe that’s at the top of my list of great rubs. It’s good on any red meat — no, it’s GREAT on any red meat.


Even though it’s a little chilly outside, fresh herbs are still abundant at the grocery store — so you’ve got some really special ingredients to use for a rub using all fresh herbs. I’ve used this rub time and time again on venison tenderloin after marinading in this special marinade … and more often than not, people don’t even know it’s venison!


I’d love to say I developed this recipe, but I can’t. I discovered it by accident in my dad’s desk. So I’m sorry to say I can’t even credit the chef of this recipe — because Dad had torn it out of a magazine from the 1970’s; I don’t even know which magazine it came out of. But Chef-Whoever-You-Are out there…thank you. You’re a star!



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, cooking, grilling, summer grilling, venison, dry rub


Again, this rub is great on all red meat (the picture above shows it on beef) — it’s great even on duck. It’s also terrific on lamb or beef roasts all tied up in the oven. (This recipe is enough for a 5 lb. roast — or spread it generously on less!)


1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves (lightly packed)

2 Tbs. fresh rosemary

Zest from 1 lemon (grated fine)

4 cloves garlic

2 Tbs. cracked peppercorns (coarse!)

2 Tbs. lightly crushed mustard seeds

2 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp. kosher salt

Put everything in a small food processor and process down to a smooth paste.  Rub and grill — and remember, don’t overcook your game! Go rare and let it rest — it’ll cook a little more as it cools.


Light pink turns gray fast! And gray = mealy. And mealy tastes like cardboard. Just sayin.










Why I Like Toy Guns


Just recently I was asked by a friend what to do about her child wanting a toy gun for his January birthdayShe was not a hunter herself, but her husband and brother were, and her concern was that the child would get too “into” guns. My advice: absolutely get him a toy gun. Want to really think I’m off my rocker? I believe one of the best presents my son ever received was a very realistic looking toy gun. Bad, right? Wrong. Here’s a post out of the archives that’ll explain why.


Countless little boys (and girls) love to play “guns” (and with my two little boys surrounded by a family of hunters, when they were very young, EVERY stick became a gun — no matter what I said. My sons would even chew their toast in the mornings into the shapes of guns.) So given we had “guns” everywhere, I decided use the opportunity to teach safety: whether they’re sticks that have been picked up or realistic reproductions of real rifles and shotguns — toys can help kids learn the skills they’ll need when the time comes for them to safely use the real thing.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, toy guns, gun safety, kids safety

This little gun is a replica of a shotgun I’d LOVE to have: an elaborately engraved side by side that is, OK, maybe a .410 or a 28 gauge (whatever I want it to be!). Here’s why I’m crazy about this little gun: its action is just like that of a real side by side — so it can be what’s called, “broken”, for loading and for safety. This has been extremely effective in teaching the kids when and why to break the gun and the ways to properly carry a broken shotgun.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, family, toy guns, gun safety, kids safety

See how the gun is now “broken” open.


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Family, Toy Guns, kids and guns, gun safety


Right now, we don’t let the kids play with the toy shotgun. It’s treated like the real thing: it’s kept with the grownup’s shotguns and comes out for real shoots. They feel like big guys in the field because other adults compliment their gun and gun safety. These shotguns even have toy “shells” that look like the real thing and are loaded with caps, so they learn when to load and when to be sure to be unloaded.



IMG_0958 Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Family, Toy Guns, gun safety, kids toy guns


There are also some toy rifles out there that can be loaded — they give parents a great chance to ask whether the toy gun is loaded. And if it is, why. But even if the kids’ gun is just a crooked stick, it’s a great question. Instill the mantra: treat every gun as
if it’s loaded. As my dad always said, “every gun is a loaded gun. period.”


Kids lap up this attention because not only are they learning something, but it means to them that mom or dad is treating their toy gun like it’s the real thing, so the make believe becomes more real to them.



Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Hunting, Bird Boys, Shooting

The Labor Day dove shoot a couple of years ago — with my son and his toy gun.


Two things: It’s absolutely never too early to start to learn the rules of gun safety, and the stakes are far far far too high not to. And second: don’t be one of those knuckleheads that run out and get the kid a BB gun, Airsoft, or pellet gun too early. No little kids (anyone under 7, in my book)  are ready for those. They’ll have a ball with a realistic looking (or not!) shotgun or rifle. At this stage, they don’t care about (and won’t be good at) marksmanship. They just want to have fun and look cool. Too many well-meaning parents try to rush this part and get their kids BB guns that the kid can’t even manage to cock safely (oh they’ll try and easily hurt themselves or someone nearby.) Let your kids be kids. It’s fleeting — and ever so sweet. Enjoy it.

And always, the best teacher is, of course, the example of the adults: always keep the real ones locked up.