Take a Kid Hunting: How to Prepare Them and Lessons They’ll Learn
It may be hot now, but in a few months the cooler weather will set in and much-anticipated fall hunts begin. It’s the season for brisk mornings, crunchy leaves, gearing up, and finally wrangling in that big buck—and maybe a kid or two. Do you have plans to take a kid hunting this fall? Now is the time to start preparing.
But how exactly do you prepare kids for hunting? How do you know if it’s even something they’ll like? Finding out starts long before their first hunt. Here are three ways to prepare a child for hunting and three lessons they can learn from it.
3 Ways to Prepare Kids for Hunting
I chatted with Gene Price—avid hunter, long-time Redmond team member, and grandpa to an enthusiastic, camo-clad nine-year-old—about kids and hunting. Gene lives in Ohio and manages his own land and deer herd—with grandson Carson as his sidekick and right-hand man.
Carson is a dead aim with a crossbow and has already used it to snag an impressive number of deer. He’s been hunting with his grandpa since he was five and is one of those kids that naturally took to it.
“He just gets it,” Gene said.
But not all kids do. So how do you know when or if your child is interested in hunting? Here are three things to do before your little’s first hunt to find out if they’re a hunter candidate. We call them the three P’s: prepare, participate, and practice.
1. Prepare them Mentally
Preparation is essential to helping a child understand and enjoy a new hunting experience—and a critical aspect of that is mental preparation.
“You can’t just take a kid from playing in the backyard to expecting them to sit quiet in a blind or watch an animal get shot,” Gene said. “There’s a lot of preparation that needs to happen before.”
Talk to your child about what goes on with hunting. Tell them real-life situations. Explain why you hunt and the process of harvesting animals. See how they react. Answer the questions they have. Do they seem receptive, interested? Or not?
“Some kids aren’t going to be,” Gene said. “Some can’t mentally get over seeing an animal harvested. They don’t understand it and they don’t want to be a part of it.”
And that’s okay. If your child isn’t receptive to hunting, don’t force it. It may not be their thing. Or they may become interested as they experience other hunting activities—like the ones listed below.
2. Participate in Hunting-Related Activities
If you want a kid to appreciate every aspect of hunting, make it an active part of their life—not just something that happens once a year. For Gene and his family, there’s a lot of work involved in a hunting lifestyle. Managing the land and a healthy deer herd is a year-round responsibility. It’s also one that provides opportunities for fun, teaching moments, and quality time together. Here are some hunting-related activities you can participate in with kids year-round:
- Prepare mineral sites. Scoping out a site and putting out minerals on your land is a deer management responsibility that can also be a fun outing. (Need deer minerals? Stock up on natural Redmond Trophy Rock and Cherry Bomb through our online store.)
- Share trail cam pics. Kids dig animals! Take time to show them cool shots and video you pick up on your trail cam.
- Plant food plots. It doesn’t get much better than climbing in a tractor with your kid or grandkid, taking care of the land and talking hunting.
- Go shed hunting. Who doesn’t love an outdoor treasure hunt? Searching for antlers is a fun expedition at any age.
- Recreate hunting scenarios. Spending time in a blind or canvassing your land helps kids see animals up close and discover what a real hunt might be like.
- Help harvest animals. Teach that harvesting an animal is part of taking care of it. Encourage kids to help cook and eat harvested meat.
3. Practice Responsible Hunting
A kid’s most influential teacher when it comes to good hunting practices is the one who takes them out most. If that’s you, polish up your hunting ethics and habits then help kids learn and practice responsible hunting.
“Be very cautious around kids,” Gene advised. “Make sure you practice good habits and show respect for the land, animals, people, and your weapons. Kids will see your example and follow your footsteps.”
There are also great youth programs to educate and prepare youth for hunting. Here are three we recommend:
- The National Archery in Schools Program is a program for youth grades 4 to 12 that teaches archery and ethics.
- In 4H Shooting Sports, youth learn marksmanship, responsible use of firearms, hunting and archery principles, and develop life skills, self-worth, and conservation ethics.
- Hunter safety courses are available nationwide and teach students responsible firearm handling, laws and regulations, and game identification.
3 Lessons Kids Learn from Hunting
From preparing for their first hunt to bagging their first buck and beyond, kids can learn valuable life lessons from hunting. Here are three Gene feels it teaches.
- Stewardship and respect. A good hunter learns respect for the animals, the land, and to accept stewardship over both.
- Skills to help provide. Through hunting, youth learn about resources in the world they can hunt and harvest. They develop skills that help them provide for themselves and their families.
- Patience, control, and confidence. Hunting is a sport that requires diligence, discipline, and courage—all attributes that help youth gain self-confidence.
Reflecting on his grandson’s first successful deer hunt, Gene recalled the confidence in Carson’s voice after he made the shot.
“He just looked at me with this big grin and said, ‘I knew I could do it,’” Gene said. “That kind of confidence that comes from hunting can really grow a kid. When life challenges come up, they can reflect back on their experience harvesting an animal and know they can handle this situation facing them too. That’s why you take a kid hunting.”
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