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Have you been looking to introduce your child to hunting? Maybe they have been raised around hunting and you just hope to teach your child to love hunting as much as you. However, getting them to love hunting can be more complicated than you would think. There is quite a bit more involved than just letting them tag along with you for a hunt.
1. Teach Them To Love The Outdoors
Your child should have a healthy appreciation for being outside before they can love to hunt. After all, if your child does not even like being outdoors, they will never enjoy hunting. You will need to encourage an appreciation for the outdoors at an early age. This is simply done by getting them involved in outdoor activities as much as possible.
A Few Types Of Outdoor Activities For Your Children Before You Go Hunting
- Collecting leaves and plants
- Collecting bugs
- Identifying birds
- Looking for animal tracks and learning to identify them
- Go shed hunting
- Take them scouting
- Make mock scrapes
When doing these activities be sure to make them feel a part of those processes. Showing them why and how you do things is just as important as what you are doing. If they can learn as they go, things become easier to grasp.
2. Focus On Your Child’s Interests
Take notice of what sparks their interests the most and how they light up with joy over it if you want your child to love hunting. Seeing their excitement during their first special moments is priceless. For example, finding their first shed or track, glassing for animals, looking for small game and varmints, or harvesting their first wild game. Celebrate with them and watch that seed sprout and begin to grow.
3. Redefine Your Definition Of Success
When the time has come to take you child hunting, you may have to redefine what success means to you. You want your kids to enjoy the experience if you ever expect your child to love hunting. This means you may no longer measure your success by whether you harvest an animal. Your new benchmark for success will be whether or not your kids had a great time.
4. Be Patient While Trying To Teach Your Child To Love Hunting
Always be patient and take it one step at a time. Do not rush them or they will get frustrated and lose interest. For little ones, start them with smaller ventures then work up to longer ones. Getting them out real young is great but keep it simple at first. Most importantly, just get them involved in the whole process.
You must realize that hunting with your kids is not like hunting with your buddies. Kids will get extremely excited, impatient, noisy, and bored. This means they are not necessarily going to sit quietly in the stand all day so just take them on a morning or evening hunt.
You may need to temper your expectations. If the weather turns bad or they are getting restless you may have to call it a day even if you would have stuck it out yourself. The most important thing for the child is that they have fun, and they will not if you are telling them to sit still and be quiet the entire time.
5. Let Your Kids Participate In Planning And Preparation And Increase Their Love Of Hunting
Have them help plan the outing and hear what they want to do, see, or find. The more kids feel involved in the hunt, the more they will enjoy it.
Good Ideas On How You Can Get Children Involved With Planning And Preparation
- Making gear list
- Ordering new gear
- Going shopping for the trip
- Setting up camp
6. Make Sure Your Children Are Comfortable
No child is ever going to have fun if they are hungry, constantly cold, or tired and worn out. Make sure you are able to keep them comfortable on the hunt by following theses simple guidelines.
- Pack plenty of food and drinks.
- Bring more clothes/layers than you think you will need.
- If you are doing some hiking, be willing to take lots of breaks if they want.
- Do not have them carry a pack unless they absolutely want to.
- If they do choose to carry one, keep their weight in mind and do not let them carry a heavy load. Maybe let them pack their own snacks and drink.
7. Start Off With Proper Gear If You Want Your Child To Love Hunting
Allowing a child to use hand-me-down gear is fine. However, make sure that everything fits properly. You do not want to try to walk to your stand in pants that are way too big, and your kid is not going to enjoy it either. Most importantly you want to make sure they are staying warm and this means you should not skimp on any of the following.
- Good boots that fit them correctly and will keep their feet warm.
- Good quality gloves or mittens for their hands that will still allow them to still use their fingers.
- Get them a good hat or beanie that will fit them properly and is appropriate for the weather.
- Invest in some handwarmers even if you do not usually use them yourself.
- A good base layer is a great idea to help keep them warm.
A child’s age has a lot to do with how you get them started with a suitable weapon. Teaching them the fundamentals is key.
Choosing your child’s first firearm is important. Maybe you just start them out carrying a BB or pellet gun to teach proper handling techniques and gun safety while on scouting trips. After that, you can move them up to a .410 or a .22 and so on as they get older.
8. Make Time To Hunt With Your Child
You will soon find out that hunting with your kids has its downside. Kids always make too much noise, want to go home too soon, and you will not harvest nearly as much as you would on your own or with friends. However, if you child is showing a love for hunting, make sure you always make plenty of time to hunt with them.
Just like you, the more your kids hunt, the more they will enjoy it and the better they will get at it. Plus, always remember your investment will pay off since your child will likely be the best hunting buddy you will ever have.
9. Keep Your Child Occupied During Slow Times
When things get slow, a child gets bored fast so be prepared. Once they are bored, they get antsy and start wanting to leave. Snacks are always great to have with you for breaks and a little boost, so they do not get hungry. Playing games are a great way to keep them occupied if needed. Games like I spy and name that sound can also get them to learn more while you wait. There are many ways to be creative to keep them occupied.
10. Do Not Push Them If They Are Not Ready
When the time finally arrives for your child to take a shot at an animal, they may not be ready. It will be okay. Let them decide when they are ready to shoot. Pushing your child too fast can very well make it so hunting is not enjoyable and they will never develop a love of hunting.
11. To Help A Child to Love Hunting Take Advantage Of Youth Hunting Seasons
When it is time for your child to take the lead and do the hunting you should take full advantage of any youth seasons your state may offer. This is a great way to introduce kids to hunting as it forces you to focus entirely on them since you will not be able to hunt also. In addition, most of these hunts have much less hunting pressure and may take place during more optimal times of the year. This means you are more likely to see and harvest game.
12. Positive Reinforcement Can Go A Long Way Toward Teaching Your Child to Love Hunting
Be sure to welcome questions and concerns but not complaints. Have them share what they’re unhappy about without complaining. Keep everything positive so that they associate it as such.
13. Enlist The Help of an Experienced Hunter If you Are Not One
If you are not that experienced a hunter yourself, you may want to reach out to some more experienced mentors. Reach out on social media and let people know that your child wants to learn about hunting. There are a lot of great people out there that will be willing to help. Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below and we will be more than happy to try to help.
14. Practice Safety
Imagine taking your kid hunting and someone seriously gets hurt. They will be done hunting for the rest of their lives that day. Also, they are the most impressionable at this time and reinforcing hunting safety now will pay off in the long run. After all, one day they will be hunting on their own and you will want to be confident they will always be safe.
15. Check Local Laws And Regulations
Make sure to know and follow your state’s youth hunting laws, as some states have age minimums. You also need to make sure that your child has met all of the hunter safety class requirements. Nothing is going to ruin there trip quite like a running into trouble with the game warden because no one checked the regulations first.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put together this website that will allow you to find your state’s fish and game agency website – Click To Find Your State Regulations
Bonus: Let Your Child’s Love of Hunting Grow
Now that you have planted the seed that will grow into your child’s love of hunting, it is time to set back and watch it flourish. Continue to implant more knowledge when needed but allow them to take the lead a little more. They will gradually learn patience and many other skills as they go and will one day be successful on their own.
It is up to us as sportsmen and women to share all of this with them or it’ll just fade away. So, it is important to plant the passion in a child so it may grow and flourish. Then, one day they will pass it down to another child themselves.
CharlesCharles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.
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