You’re excited to share your love of hunting with your kids. But getting them to love hunting as much as you do can be a lot more complicated than just bringing them along for a hunt.
When introducing your children to hunting, your success isn’t measured by whether you bring home an animal. It’s measured by how much your kids enjoy the experience and whether they want to continue to hunt. Here are a few things you can do to make sure their first hunting experiences are fun.
- Teach them to love the outdoors. Before your child can love to hunt, he or she needs to love being outside. Foster an appreciation for the outdoors at an early age by getting them outside as much as possible and engaging them by collecting leaves, bugs, identifying birds, looking for animal tracks and more.
- Be patient. Hunting with your kids isn’t like hunting with your buddies. Kids are naturally excitable, impatient and noisy. They won’t quietly sit still for long, especially if they’re young. Temper your expectations. The top priority here is that they have fun, and they won’t if you’re telling them to sit still and be quiet the entire time.
- Check local laws and regulations. Make sure to know and follow your state’s youth hunting laws, as some states have age minimums and require safety classes. Here in New Hampshire, there is no minimum age for hunting. Hunters under age 16 must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult hunter. (For more info on youth hunting regulations in New Hampshire, visit http://www.eregulations.com/newhampshire/hunting/youth-hunting-n-h/.)
- Let them participate. The more kids feel involved in the hunt, the more they will enjoy it. Allow them to participate in planning where to go, what to pack, how to navigate and more.
- Make sure they’re comfortable. No child enjoys being cold or hungry. Make sure your child stays comfortable on the hunt by packing plenty of food and drinks and making sure they are warm. Also, be willing to take lots of breaks if they want.
- Don’t push too fast. When the moment of truth arrives, your child might not be ready to shoot any game. That’s okay. Let your child decide when he or she is ready to shoot. If you push them too fast, you might make them think hunting isn’t enjoyable.
- Practice safety. Someday, when your kids are older and off hunting on their own, you’ll want them to be safe. Now is the time to set a good example and practice the same safety precautions you’ll want them to take one day. Have your kids practice shooting targets prior to their first hunt. Go to a pit or firing range and let your child get used to handling a firearm safely. (If you shoot at a pit, remember to clean up the area afterwards.)
- Make time for them. There’s no denying hunting with your kids has its downside. They’ll make too much noise, want to go home too soon, and you won’t catch nearly as much as you would on your own or with friends. But it’s important to make plenty of time to hunt with them. The more your kids hunt, the more they’ll enjoy it and the better they’ll get at it.
- Take advantage of youth events. A great way to introduce kids to hunting are youth hunting events. New Hampshire has several special youth hunting weekends each year for deer, waterfowl and turkey hunting. For more information, visit http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/youth.html.
- Enlist the help of a guide. Teaching isn’t a skill that everyone has. If you aren’t much of a teacher – and even if you are – taking your child out with a guide is a great way to introduce them to hunting. Guides are not only experienced at hunting, they are also experienced at teaching skills to beginners. Here at Lopstick Lodge, our expert guides can teach skills to hunters of any age. For information on our guides, visit http://www.lopstick.com/guides.