Father and son deer hunting

Take A Kid Hunting

What do you say to your youngster as they peer deep into your eyes while you are preparing for your hunt and ask, “When can I go with you?”

All hunters hope their child will someday want to join them and share the same passion we have for hunting. However, when the day arrives, whether they pose the question or we invite them, the thought of it can be overwhelming. It is sometimes hard to determine just when we want to head out with our new little hunting buddy. After all, we want to ensure that their first hunt leaves a pleasant memory etched into their mind.

What is The Right Age?
Many have argued over what age a child should be taken out for their first hunt. Some think 10- to 12 years old is a good start, while others have had their children in the woods as young as age 5. No two children are alike and they mature at different ages. It is my belief that the parent will know when the time is right.

What Game to Hunt?
For those of us who hunt several species of game, it can be confusing trying to decide, which animal to pursue with our new hunter alongside. It has always been my belief that you should start your child hunting the game you hunt best.

Hunting is a major event in a youngster’s life. It can be passed on from one generation to the next. (Photo by John and Vikki L. Trout)

Squirrel hunting teaches woodsmanship and patience. A child will enjoy hearing the squirrel cutting nuts and have fun stalking the animal, and will learn their environment, such as various types of trees that squirrels frequently visit.

For those taking their child deer hunting for the first time, remember that they will have the most fun when they see a big game animal. Does and fawns will keep your child excited, just as a big buck excites the veteran hunter!

Using Ground Blinds
Many adults prefer to use a ground blind when taking their young hunter into the field. Large ground blinds offer enough room for two people, and provide concealment while waiting for something to happen.

Although ground blinds are a great tactic for kids to begin hunting, it will not teach them woodsmanship skills. Eventually, you should introduce the youngster to a walk, or an ambush site in the woods without the aid of a ground blind. The hands-on experience is superior, teaching hunting skills — not just shooting skills.

Make it Enjoyable
Since you want this hunt to be pleasurable for your child, other important factors need to be considered, such as weather, and a child’s attention span. Plan the adventure for a day when the weather is pleasant. It is vital that a hunter’s first day in the field be comfortable.

When planning your child’s first hunt, keep in mind their short attention span. For instance, squirrel hunting allows the child to move around in the woods with you as you locate and set up on a feeding bushytail. This will certainly assure the child will experience action, not boredom.

Educate The Youngster
Whether hunting with a bow or a gun, shot placement must be taught before heading out with a weapon.

If your intent is to have your youngster start deer hunting with a bow, equip them with a low-poundage bow they can draw comfortably. I would also suggest you get them out well in advance to practice shooting skills. It’s helpful to use a deer target that has the vitals illustrated. This will teach them deer anatomy and shot placement.

Effective shooting range is another important aspect. Regardless of the quarry, it is important to teach how to judge yardage accurately and shoot only within their effective shooting range.

One important factor to keep in mind is that no matter what game you hunt, teaching the child ethics should be your top priority.

Age Appropriate Equipment
Our little hunting buddy will want to look just like we do. Dressing them in camouflage will make them feel more like they are on an actual hunt. Fortunately, many of today’s manufacturers provide an array of youth sizes, from hats to hunting boots.

Footwear is of the utmost importance. Whether the boots are rubber or leather, they should fit properly and comfortably to avoid painful blisters, provide warmth and keep the feet dry.

Choosing Their First Gun
I think a single-shot .22 caliber rifle is the perfect gun for the beginning shooter because only one bullet is fired. Using the one-shot gun will help them to bear down and concentrate on aiming. A child should be taught that it is always the first shot that counts.

The 20-gauge or .410-gauge shotgun combined with a light load is far more comfortable for a child to shoot than a heavy-gauge. It will not kick as hard, and is capable of providing a successful hunt. A weapon that creates a bad memory is enough to make them gun shy.

It’s also important to teach your child gun safety. Instruction is essential along with hands-on experience. They should be taught that the gun is not dangerous and it is the hunter’s responsibility to keep it safe. There are now even online hunter education classes available — http://www.hunter-ed.com/index.html?gclid=CKHKp_-DpLECFcqe7Qodv1QtrA

Taking a youth to the woods and sharing their experience generates a tighter bond between parent and child. And, not to mention, the pride we experience as we watch them take their first animal — it’s second to none!

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