Getting kids hunting involves much more than teaching them to shoot a firearm or a bow.
What was it that got us interested in hunting in the first place? For me, it was hearing the stories, seeing the animals in the wild, and the desire to be a part of the community of hunters everywhere.
With so many other distractions these days, it’s getting harder and harder to get kids interested in hunting, or keeping them interested once they’ve tried it. Sure, it can be work to keep a kid’s attention focused on the things that we want them to do, but once they’ve found something that they really like, they are information sponges of the greatest kind.
As the adults in their lives, it’s up to us to find a few ways to get them involved in hunting, keep them hunting, and enjoy it for the rest of their lives. It’s time to let them sit at the grown-ups table and let them eat with us.
Since we all understand that hunting season only comes around once a year, the offseason is the perfect time to get them in the field with us to do some pre-season scouting, tree trimming, and looking for signs of game animals.
Stand location scouting for deer season might be the most fun and it can go hand in hand with stand maintenance of existing treestands.
As you work, talk about the places where they might think the deer will come from. Have them imagine the distance, line up the shot, and predict what will happen after the hit.
Youth hunters don’t need to be limited to small game. Something like turkey hunting can seem like a bigger task for young hunter, since they need a lot of planning and preparation to bag one, but that can play into your favor.
Whether they’re using a firearm or bow, they will need to get in some good target practice and get a taste of what it means to shoot. Better yet, when possible, try to have them do their shooting straight from the blind they will be using with you to hunt from. Only do this if it’s safe to do so, and if there’s no chance of spooking animals that may be there when it’s time to hunt.
There is nothing more fun than target practice with multiple methods of shooting, sometimes from a ground blind and even from an elevated position if possible. If they are going to hunt from a tree, then they should practice from one even if it is in the warmer months of summer.
Another great thing for young hunters to do is to learn the biology of the game animals that they want to hunt. We all had to learn why whitetail deer rut in the fall or that wild turkeys mate in the spring, and it helped us stay interested. There’s something to learn for every level of up and coming hunter.
There may be no better way to get a young hunter more involved than to get a buddy or two of his (or hers) to go along. When a peer learns these things right alongside a new hunter, some of the obstacles and difficulties can be diminished.
Other Youth Pre-Hunting Experiences
Some of the things that you and I take for granted are new to an inexperienced hunter. Things like the method of entering or exiting the woods, field dressing and care of game meat like venison, and cooking that hard-earned wild game are all foreign to new hunters. With attention to detail, they can all be made into a fun and practical learning experience.
Hunting teaches young sportsmen patience and guile. Emphasizing hunting safety gives new hunters a marked lesson on their first hunt. There is really no minimum age for taking kids hunting, only legal regulations that compel us to make sure that they don’t participate until they are of the legal age to hunt.
The best way to get kids involved is to let them see it for themselves. Take a kid hunting that wants to go and see the amazing reaction that they have just while watching. Let them ask all the questions that they want and encourage their patience, because that is truly the hunter’s best advantage and greatest strength.
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