Interested in getting your children involved in the hunt but unsure how to start? Avid hunter, outdoor adventure blogger and father-of-two, Phillip Hunt, shares his tips and advice on how to introduce kids to hunting.
In a world of cell phones and tablets, getting kids in the woods is harder than ever. Most folks assume kids would rather zone out in front of a LED screen for hours rather than sit silently in a deer stand.
That may be true for some children. I would argue that by setting realistic expectations, kids can become integral members of your hunting crew. Here are 8 tips to introduce kids to hunting.
tip #1: Before the season starts, take the child with you to prepare for hunting season
This can mean walks in the woods looking for deer sign, preparing food plots or checking trail cameras. I laugh when I look back at old trail cam pictures and see how much my kids have grown.
We would always tell them to keep their hands out of the feeders, but the camera would catch them in the act.
Tip #2: Choose a first hunt that is exciting and lends itself to lots of action
In other words: limit the need for prolonged stillness.
Dove hunting and squirrel hunting come to mind as perfect starter hunts. A September dove field is exciting, active and usually involves a cooler full of snacks.
Plus, many kids enjoy being their family’s retriever and picking up doves when they are shot.
Tip #3: Set your kid up for success
A cold deer hunt in an open stand will have both hunter and child frustrated at the end. Expecting a kid to sit still for hours on end and not move in freezing temperatures is like expecting a dog not to shake off water when it gets out of the pond. Its not going to happen.
Tip #4: Proper clothing leads to happier hunting
Most kids’ camo is hot and stuffy. Taking your child dove hunting in canvas pants and a camo sweatshirt is a recipe for disaster. On the other side, hunting in cold with that same outfit will leave the kid cold and miserable.
My suggestion is to dress the kid in drab colors that fit the temperature in which you are hunting. People were harvesting game long before there was commercialized camouflage. Not having the latest and greatest pattern will not decrease your chances of taking game.
Tip #5: Remember, guns are loud
Thus, make sure you and your kid have proper fitting ear protection. It’s also best to shoot around the child before the day of the hunt to get them used to the loud noise.
Tip #6: Speaking of sound...
...if you are hunting deer and bring snacks for kids, take the snacks out of the packaging before you hunt. Putting them in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container allows for quiet access when hunger calls.
Tip #7: If your hunt is successful, let your child be a part of cleaning the game
Lessons on where food comes from are few and far between. The kids are curious, and by the end of it they know that chicken nuggets don’t come from the chicken nugget machine.
Tip #8: Lower your expectations
If you expect your kid to do everything perfect on a hunt, everyone will be miserable. Give them grace when they move too much, and don’t get bent out of shape if they start sneezing as a deer comes into range. Instead, laugh about it and put it away in your file of memories that one day you will cherish.
Hunting with children is an exciting and rewarding experience. On the drive to the hunt, conversations full of questions and stories of past hunts fill the time. On the way home, reliving the exciting or funny parts of the hunt ensure that the outdoors will be cherished for another generation.