It’s easy to focus on the statistics that provide woeful predictions about hunting’s future. In many states, new hunter recruitment is not keeping up with drop-out rates, and that’s a fact we all should be concerned about.

But yesterday morning dawned clear and bright in southern Minnesota, and I wasn’t thinking about big pictures. I was thinking about Vernon, Alan, and Wyatt Mote. The photo above shows three generations of this family, who are my neighbors and dear friends.

Over 20 years ago, I started calling turkeys for Vernon (left). His son Alan (far right) was in elementary school then and tagged along with me on deer and turkey outings. Alan used to scramble up a tree ahead of me and sit quietly on bowhunts, years before he was old enough to participate.

Somehow, as boys do, Alan morphed into a man and the smiling kid in the center of this picture is Wyatt, his youngest son. Yesterday morning Alan, Vernon, and Wyatt were stuffed in a pop-up blind near some gobblers I’d roosted the night before. I was wriggled against a nearby tree running a call.

Come sunup a nice longbeard wandered in close enough for Vernon to shoot. He passed the opportunity because he wanted Wyatt to kill a bird. And sure enough, about an hour later a hen walked in to my calls, followed by a full-strut jake that acted like he was king of the world. Seven-year old Wyatt made a great shot with his 20-gauge, and the celebrating began.

I’m still concerned about big-picture hunting issues, of course. But in my little corner of the world, I know one family who’s doing all they can to keep this important tradition alive. And who knows? With good health and a little luck, I might be taking a four-generation photo of the Mote’s on a future turkey hunt.