How to Safely Introduce Your Kids to Hunting
Hunters and supporters of the Second Amendment both know all too well the constant battle that is necessary to defend our rights and opportunities. Both gun shooting sports and hunting have a decent level of participation today but seem against the directional momentum of our modern culture. Getting the next generation involved in hunting and shooting is imperative to maintaining our constitutional gun rights as well as hunting opportunities and land access rights.
In addition to helping the overall cause, getting kids involved in hunting and shooting is important to passing on the traditions of each. It is also very beneficial to the individual child. Kids today lack quality, face-to-face human interaction, exercise and time spent outdoors. Hunting and shooting offer plenty of opportunities in all of the areas where kids today are lacking.
While the advantages of getting your kids involved are numerous, the process of introducing them to hunting or shooting gets trickier as our technology-centered culture drags them further from traditional hobbies. This article will go over some ways that you can get them involved in both shooting and hunting.
Early Introductions to Shooting
Most kids of hunting parents will show some early interest in mimicking their parents’ hobbies, so a big part of the process is figuring out how to manage and foster that interest. Generally, at a young age, they will want to fully participate, whether it is going hunting as a toddler or shooting guns. Of course, neither of those is realistic as early as they might hope, so parents must figure out ways to keep them interested until they are old enough to fully join in.
Some kids may be interested in shooting even before an air rifle is a safe choice. In that case, you could start them out with an airsoft gun or a toy gun that you can use to teach them the basics of firearm safety. That way once they are ready for an air gun or a .22 they have a foundation of the safety rules.
Continue to reinforce and stress safety as they move up to and past air guns. You can also start talking to them about hunting ethics. The great part about getting them started shooting at a young age is it will give them a start on marksmanship skills and shooting can be a standalone hobby if they do not end up loving hunting.
Taking them Along on Hunting Trips
Once they are old enough to have a little patience and physical endurance, taking them along on a hunting or scouting trip is a good idea. You will want to consider some special accommodations for those first few tagalong adventures, which will also be good to remember for their first few actual hunting trips. Some things to consider are:
- Pick a reasonable weather day
- Make sure they are dressed to stay comfortable
- Go when there is a good chance of success or encounters
- Pack lots of snacks
- Be patient and allow for plenty of questions
- Quit when they are ready to be done
The goal is to ease them into it and help get them excited about future trips, not start with too much intensity and burn them out. Creating positive first experiences is a good way to help them towards enjoying hunting, however, it is not a guarantee. Remember that hunting might not be for them and trying to pressure them into liking it will make them less likely to come around down the road.
Early Hunting Opportunities
Most states offer youth hunting programs and seasons that are perfect for initial hunting trips. In almost all cases, the adult is not allowed to harvest any animals themselves, so the focus of the hunt is on the youngster. Typically, youth hunting days and seasons are at times and locations where success is more likely than general seasons. Research what types of youth opportunities are available in your state and try to take advantage of them.
Whether it is a state-sanctioned youth hunt or just your kid hunting with you on a general season hunt, make sure to stay patient and be positive. Celebrate their successes and do not get too down when things do not go perfectly. If all goes well you will have a new hunting partner, advocate for hunting rights and steward of our natural resources.