Tips for Taking a Kid Hunting
Bill Jordan ends every show with the same marquee saying: “Take a kid hunting or fishing…” That is great advice for every outdoorsman or woman. It is vitally important to share a passion for the outdoors with the next generation so that the outdoors lifestyle does not become a thing of the past. But, introducing a kid to hunting is no easy task. It takes a lot of preparation, and a lot of patience. Here are a few tips to ensure a safe and prosperous hunt.
- Start small. Take a kid hunting for small game before jumping into big game. Squirrel hunts, where you can do more walking around, and still see plenty of game is a good choice. You can work on teaching a child to sit still, and keep their eyes open for wildlife. However, if he gets bored, you can easily walk a bit, and take up a new stand. These excursions are great for getting the opportunity to show kids sign from different animals. Make sure and take advantage of all opportunities, identifying tracks and droppings from various animals.
- Choose a good stand. When you do take a kid deer hunting, make sure and pick a good stand. An enclosed box blind, or a ground blind are great choices. If that is not available, build a blind from tree branches, leaves, and other natural cover. Build something large enough for your young hunter to get up and stretch his legs, and even take a few steps around without disturbing the area, or spooking game. You also want to choose a stand where there is a good chance of seeing deer. Kids don’t have long attention spans, so the sooner you can spot game, the better. A visit can be made at the opticzoo.com to educate the kids about the hunting of the predators. Either there is bird or animal, the catching will be easy for the hunters.
- Try to pick a warm day. Nothing will deter a kid’s desire to go hunting like freezing on the deer stand. If it is too cold, leave the kids at home. Always make sure that kids are dressed warm enough to be comfortable for as long as possible. If there is any doubt that they will stay warm, take along a small sleeping bag. Sleeping bags will not only keep the child warm, but it will also provide a sense of adventure that a kid will love. If the child gets cold, and asks to head back to camp, do it! If you make the kid stay longer in the field than they are comfortable with, they won’t want to go back. You certainly don’t want to turn them off in this early stage of their hunting development!
- Take food and drinks. It’s always good to take sandwiches and cokes along with you to the stand. There is something about getting set up in the blind and breaking out the sandwiches that makes a kid’s day. Even better is to have a pack full of candy bars, trail mix, and venison jerky. Special warm drinks, such as coffee or hot chocolate can be a treat, and can also extend your time on stand by keeping you kid warm. Offering a child a cup of coffee can make him feel like one of the big guys, and it won’t hurt them. If you are worried about it, take decaffeinated coffee along.
- Don’t be pushy. Don’t force a child to go with you. You may not understand what makes your child want to go hunting one day, and not want to go the next. But, it doesn’t really matter if you understand it or not. If he doesn’t want to be out in the field, then he will be miserable. Don’t try to shame him into going with you. If he wants to be out there, then he will have fun, and you will see the enjoyment growing in them. The more fun your kid has, the more likely he will want to be out in the woods with you.
- Provide earplugs. Most hunters are used to the sudden loud sound when a gun is fired, but a child is not ready for that. On top of the surprise, the report of a rifle can cause serious hearing problems. Provide earplugs for your child, or at least instruct him to plug his ears with his fingers before you pull that trigger. You don’t want to startle your child, and you don’t want his ears ringing for an hour after you shoot a deer. Both will cause your little hunter to be a little antsy, so provide some protection.
- Take what comes. It is best to take a child hunting when you are willing to shoot any deer that comes along. Doe season is a great time because of this. Kids don’t understand that you are waiting for a bigger deer. They want you to shoot something. So, if you take a child with you, plan on shooting any legal deer. Once your child sees you shoot a deer, they will be hooked. Your kid will not care if you kill a doe or a 10 point buck.
- Share the whole experience. Give your child the opportunity to experience all that is hunting. If you tag an animal, let him see you clean it, and let him help you drag it from the woods. Kids need to learn that there is more to hunting than sitting in a stand and pulling a trigger. Believe it or not, kids like to be involved in every aspect of the hunt. They like to see what happens after the hunt, and want to help with anything you will be doing.
- Don’t have unreal expectations. Face it; if you are taking a child into the woods, especially one who is very young, your chances of scoring on a monster buck are pretty slim. You are going on this hunt for the experience, not necessarily for the success. If your child doesn’t want to sit on stand longer than an hour, then move on back to camp. Your primary goal on a hunt like this is to make sure your child enjoys himself. Whatever it takes, see to it that your kid has a good time so that he will want to join you again. This relationship will build into a lifelong hunting relationship.
- Don’t walk too far. Remember when you are walking into a stand that you will have to walk out. You also may be dragging a deer with you on the way out. Hunt as close to camp or your vehicle as you can. You don’t want your child to be so tired of walking that he is not enjoying himself. If you decide to move from your stand or blind, walk in a direction that will keep you close to your camp or vehicle. You can cover quite a bit of ground, and still be close enough to return to base when your child gets tired.
Bill Jordan is right. It is vitally important to get the next generation interested in the outdoor sports. Get them started early, and they will be dedicated to the outdoor lifestyle. That will be good for them, good for the wildlife, and good for our society. So, take a kid hunting. You will change their life-and probably your own as well!