Youth Hunting – When and How to Get Kids Started Hunting

Youth Hunting – When and How to Get Kids Started Hunting Passing the Torch Getting the youth of today into hunting comes with benefits that range from the individual to […]

Youth Hunting – When and How to Get Kids Started Hunting

Jeff and Miss B on the way to the deer blind

Passing the Torch

Getting the youth of today into hunting comes with benefits that range from the individual to the sport as a whole.

  • It gets kids off the couch and outdoors where they can get exercise while enjoying a wholesome activity.
  • Encourages quality time interacting with family and friends of multiple generations
  • Raises the next generation to advocate for hunting opportunities and gun rights.

When to Get Them Started

It is likely that both kids and parents will be excited about a first hunting trip, it is important to consider some factors to determine when the time is right for that trip. Getting them started too young may cause them to burnout.

Some things to take into consideration before bringing them along are:

  • Attention span– make sure you think they can be entertained for a couple hours in the woods
  • Following directions– safety is critical, and it is important that kids are able to be obedient around guns
  • Physical stamina– If you are not sitting in a stand, odds are the kid will be required to cover a little ground

Starting Slow

Once you have determined that your child is ready to get involved with hunting, it is time to consider what their first outing should be.

Before a kid is ready to carry their own weapon and harvest their own animals, bring them to tag along on a hunt. Here is some framework for what would make a good first hunt:

  • Go on a good weather day
  • Make sure they are dressed to stay warm, dry and comfortable
  • Bring snacks as morale and energy boosters
  • Hunt something where encounters and success are likely.
  • Call it quits for the day when they are ready to be done.

Shifting to Full Involvement

Those days where the kid is tagging along are the perfect opportunity to teach and reinforce lessons about safety and ethics. Before they are allowed to be the hunter, states will require them to complete a hunter safety course.

Miss B practicing for the next hunt

Miss B practicing for the next hunt

Some states have minimum age requirements for taking that course and becoming a licensed hunter, others do not. If there is not an age minimum, you should have a good idea of when they are ready to take the course and test based on your experiences with them in the field.

In addition to meeting the legal requirements, here are some other attributes to look for:

  • Readiness to harvest an animal- Make sure that they understand as a hunter they will be responsible for the initial shot, finishing shots and field dressing of the animal.
  • Make sure they are competent with the weapon they will be using- Whether it is a gun or bow on, they should be capable of an ethical and lethal shot on an animal.
  • Ethics and decision-making- Even if you plan to be by their side for the hunt helping them make decisions, make sure they understand the rationale behind the decisions.

The First Real Hunt

Youth Hunting - When and How to Get Kids Started Hunting

When you make plans for the first hunt where the child will be the tag holder, make sure to stick to the same framework discussed for their first time coming along on a hunt. Most states offer youth hunts where odds are better for harvest. These are great opportunities because of success rates and the fact that the adult will not be focused on their own harvest.

Talk (quietly) them through the stages of the hunt. As an experienced hunter, you have probably forgotten that you once had to learn many of the things you now know.

Be patient with them, and even if things get frustrating, do not express it or take it out on them.

Youth Hunting - When and How to Get Kids Started Hunting - in tree standConclusion

If the timing is right and the first experiences go well, hopefully, the kid will develop a passion for hunting. The first experiences could go poorly and the kid could still love it, or, they could go perfectly and they just might not be into it. Either way, keep the door open for future opportunities.

If you are successful getting them involved, you will have created a lifelong hunting partner and advocate for the sport.

Guest Post

Big thanks to Jon from Outdoorempire.com for offering this guest post for Gear Report.

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About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits.

A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps http://MGECOM.com acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management.

Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.