Your kids are getting to be about that age. What age that exactly is varies from family to family, but it is almost time to introduce them to the special bonding activity that is hunting. With youth seasons firing up around the country it’s the perfect time to get the kiddos into the great outdoors. However, as parents we tend to envision that first hunt as something quiet and peaceful, idyllic in its tranquility and its success. Even if you end up considering the situation realistically, your first hunt with your kids is likely going to end up much worse than you can imagine. It is going to be hard from the get-go, but hunting with kids will go a bit smoother if you can keep from making these mistakes.
1 – Expecting the Impossible
While it depends on how old your kids are, you shouldn’t expect them to act like seasoned adult hunters. Even teens are going to be restless and noisy. The younger your kids are, the more they are not going to want to sit still and wait. It is best to keep first hunts short and active. Deer hunts may be too waiting-intensive, but small game hunts may be more exciting.
2 – Not Prioritizing Safety Beforehand
When hunting with kids, safety should be the number one priority. While you should run through gun, bow, and knife safety before even planning a hunting trip, you will likely make the mistake of thinking your kids absorbed it all in one go. Be sure to gently correct their incorrect safety behavior while hunting and lead by example. Don’t yell at them if they make a mistake, simply demonstrated the right way and encourage them.
Hunting is meant to be fun! A nice hunting blind is a great way to make the hunt with your kids more enjoyable and effective.
3 – Being Poorly Prepared
While all YOU may need in the blind is a lukewarm thermos of coffee and some jerky, this won’t cut it for the young one. Bring snacks and drinks that are quiet and easy to eat and drink while on the hunt. Wrappers are often noisy, so open them up before the hunt and place whatever snack it is into a zip lock baggy. You will find that a well-fed kid is an infinitely better hunting partner.
4 – Forcing the Shot
You have likely heard at least one story where a parent took their kid hunting, forced them to take the shot, and the kid never wanted to go hunting again after that. Your child may not shoot on their first hunting trip, and not because there wasn’t anything to shoot at. They need to be mentally equipped before they are ready to take a life. Don’t push it and don’t pressure them. Let them tell you when they are ready to shoot and make sure they know it is okay to be sad after they kill something.
5 – Not Letting Them Learn
What is hunting if it’s not a good learning experience? Don’t do everything for your kids, they won’t learn much. To them, watching you do every little thing is probably pretty boring. If you hit a deer, let them do the blood trail, teach them how to do the calls, maybe even work in some handy tracking knowledge. This way you equip them with lifelong hunting knowledge.
6 – Not Allowing Things to Be Fun
If you want a little hunting buddy, you need to occasionally prioritize fun over anything else. The key to getting kids excited about hunting is to occasionally make it fun, especially the first few times. Your first hunts likely won’t be too successful since your kids will need some time to adjust, but let them have some fun too. If you are in the blind or a tree stand, let them bring something quiet to do to sooth the waiting. Don’t be afraid to do some normal fun camping activities at your deer camp, as well. Also, don’t just make everything about the hunt, it is terribly dull.
7 – Wanting to Hunt All the Time
We know. You’re eager to get out there and want your kids to feel that same thrill. However, your kids aren’t going to want to go hunting all the time. That is something you should accept since the more you try to force them to go, the less they are going to like it. You also may need to accept that they will want to do it less when they become a teenager. Chances are they will take up hunting after those hormone-fueled nightmare years, though.
In the end, enjoy it. Think back to the days when you were a kid discovering the great outdoors, for a lot of us, there was no better past time.