There was a time when every kid dreamed of going hunting with their parents, bagging a limit of birds or a trophy buck, and enjoying the spoils of the hunt on the dinner table. Kids these days seem more interested in trolling Facebook, playing video games, or sending an endless string of meaningless texts. This doesn’t mean that outdoorsmen and women should surrender to the new age of kids and go hunting alone. Parents will just have to try harder to introduce their children to the outdoors in general and hunting in particular. Here are some tips for introducing kids to hunting.
Ease Them In
Hunting is serious stuff. Taking another animal’s life is an experience like no other. Children react differently to their first kill with emotions ranging from total elation to deep sadness. You can help ensure that a child views their successful hunt as a positive experience by easing them into the sport. Here are some easy ways to do it:
Take them on scouting trips and point out tracks, droppings, antler rubs, and other sign. This shows them that hunting is about more than shooting animals. It is also about learning their habitat and behavior.
Let them help you blood trail deer. Kids love the detective work involved in blood trailing and taking them along for the recovery ensures a successful trip.
Discuss the need to respect the animal in life and death.
Let kids help butchering and preparing game meat for the table. Relive the hunt while your enjoy a delicious meal of wild game.
Introducing Kids to Firearms
When it comes to firearms, safety should be the number one concern. Young hunters should take a hunters’ safety course and understand firearm safety before they hit the woods.
An air rifle is a great tool for introducing young hunters to the shooting. It has virtually no recoil or report, things that can cause young shooters to develop bad habits like flinching or jerking the trigger.
Once your young hunter has developed good shooting habits it is time to practice with their hunting rig. Depending on what your are hunting, a youth model .22 long rifle, shotgun, or centerfire rifle will fit smaller shooters and result in more accurate shooting. Look at gauges and calibers with minimal recoil like the 20 gauge or .243. Whatever firearm you choose for your young hunter, make sure they know how to handle and operate it safely and proficiently.
Make it Fun
Remember to have fun. Experienced hunters often take the sport very seriously, but when you are taking a kid, make fun the main goal. Consider harvesting an animal to be a bonus to the time spent outdoors with a youngster. Here are a few ways to keep hunting fun for kids:
Take refreshments. Drinks and snacks in the stand or blind will keep your young hunting partner from getting hungry or thirsty as well as giving them something to do while waiting for game to arrive.
Bring a video game. This seems sacrilegious to some hunters, but a hand held video game or phone app can help keep kids in the woods long enough to experience the adrenaline charge that comes with seeing or harvesting game.
Hunt when the weather is nice. Nobody likes freezing their tail off waiting for an animal that may or may not arrive. While experienced hunters will endure cold, wind, and rain for a chance at a trophy, make sure a kid’s first outings take place when the weather is nice. You should also make sure that they are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions. Nothing dampens a kid’s enthusiasm quicker than being cold or wet.
Whether you take your own children or children of non-hunting parents, time spent in the outdoors with kids is its own reward. Children are the future of hunting, so make sure you share at least of few hunts with a young hunter this season. Besides, you’ll be glad to have someone to drag your deer out of the woods when they get older.