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Father and Son Pheasant Hunting

A father stares at the kitchen table, wondering how to strike up a conversation with his teenage son. “How should I begin?” and “how should I presume?” he wonders.

His son slouches and checks his cell phone for text messages, a new app, a score update—anything to break the awkward silence surfacing shortly after his father suggested they sit down and “visit about life.”

“What lecture is coming next?” the son wonders.

If this scene is scary to fathers and sons alike, consider the possibilities of how valuable a pheasant hunt with each other could be.

While as fathers we want our sons to sit down, sit still and look directly in our eyes, that may not be the best approach, unless, of course, you’re interrogating about that new dent in the car’s rear quarter panel.

A number of experts in communicating with male teens suggest doing the following to improve communication:

1) Be active. Move around and do something such as walking in the same direction. Boys communicate better when on the go. They feel less apprehensive and can release that nervous energy.

2) Don’t concern yourself with eye contact. To pull heart-wrenching feelings and deep thoughts from a teenage boy, look in the same direction he’s looking during the conversation and/or imitate his posture and eye gaze. Boys see this body language as less challenging and less threatening and will be more willing to open up to you.

3) Prompt the young man with some questions; avoid starting the conversation with a lecture and see where that takes you.

So, do you really want to connect with your teenage son? Take him on a pheasant hunt. You’ll be moving around. Your eyes will be engaged with the landscape and flushing birds. You may not be a big conversationalist while walking through the field, but there’s always the walk back to the truck to share your thoughts with each other. And you can visit when you’re teaching him how to clean the birds.

Fathers will be amazed about the openness and the honesty of young men in the hunting fields. Their thoughts about friends, girls, cars, jobs, sports and dreams will pour out if you let them. Plus, you’ll both have fun and enjoy the sport of upland hunting.

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