By John Mondin
For most outdoorsmen (and women!) there is no greater pleasure than passing on the love of the outdoors to children. However, hunting with kids can pose special problems and challenges. Kids are not apt to sit quietly in a stand for hours on end.
Safe hunting rules need to be reinforced, possibly at every outing. Even if your children seem very interested in hunting and all that goes with it, remember to keep in mind that they are still children, and that they have different requirements than adult hunters.
Instead of sitting in a stand for hours at a time, try moving around. Sit in one place for an hour or two, and then walk to another area to sit for a while. Kids are not made to sit still. It’s just a fact of life. They will learn, as time goes on, to sit still for longer periods while hunting, but make their first hunts enjoyable by moving around.
As you walk through your hunting area, explain to them why you’ve chosen to sit in certain places. If you can identify some animal tracks and paths animals use, that’s even better. Kids are sponges and they love to soak up new information. Use that to your advantage to help them understand why you do the things you do in the woods.
Make some safety rules and go over them every time you head out to hunt. Make sure the kids understand there are consequences to every action and that hunting is serious business. Have them repeat the rules to you and tell them that the rules are to keep them safe because you care about them.
Kids seem to always be hungry. Some good, healthy snacks are a great way to keep them occupied and quiet while in the stand or blind. Think about something you can bring that they will only get when they are hunting – beef jerky, for example. Make it fun and make it special, just for hunting occasions.
Preparation is Key
Involve kids in everything you do to prepare to hunt. Let them help train your hunting dogs. Take them out to set up trail cameras or let them download the trail cam pictures onto the computer. They can help plant food plots and even take care of hunting equipment.
If you do not feel they are old enough to clean guns, they can still watch as you explain every step to them. Getting them involved in every aspect of what goes into your hunts will make them that much more excited when the season actually comes.
Have Patience and Don’t Push Them
Again, realize that kids are kids. They move around. They sometimes make too much noise. That is part of hunting with kids. And also remember that hunting, no matter how much a part of your life it is, won’t be for everyone. You may have a kid that loves it, and another that has no interest in it all.
Definitely expose them to the sport and to the various kinds of hunts in which you take part. Let them make the decision whether or not it is something they enjoy. They may decide to pick up hunting later in life, or not at all, but at least you’ve given them the option
The big thing in hunting with kids is keeping them, and others in the woods, safe, and to remember that they are just kids. They are not mini adults, and they have special requirements to be in the woods.
Involving them in all aspects of hunting preparation throughout the year is a great way to get them excited for the season, too. Keep it fun and answer all of their questions as you go along. This will go a long way toward getting your kids into hunting for life.
As an avid hunter John Mondin’s passion for the outdoors is poured into his aptly named crossbows review site, crossbowcritic.com. John regularly writes on his favorite hunting equipment and top tips to make the experience even more rewarding.
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