Inspiring your kids to hunt isn't always easy, but these tips will have them begging you to take them outdoors.
Every kid is different. My son is more eager to hunt than my daughter, but both come along with me frequently. Some kids just love being in the outdoors and will go every time you ask, but most kids won't want to go hunting if they don't have good time.
Here are a few ideas to help introduce hunting to kids and make the experience more enjoyable.
1. Get your kids their own camo and hunting gear.
If you want them to feel like they belong in the woods, then have them wearing the same kind of clothing you have on.
Nothing's worse than bringing your kid hunting, decked out in camo while they're wearing jeans and a black shirt.
I always walk through the youth section and look for sales on hunting gear. And yes, for my daughter, I'll buy pink camo. Or I'll buy the camo shirt with a batman logo on it. This is major cool points for kids and my daughter will go with me just because she gets to wear her new pink camo boots!
It's also fun to get them their own hunting backpack to keep all their gear and take with them on hunts.
2. Face paint is cool. Have fun with it.
I usually wear face paint when it's too warm to wear a mask, so I always have some on me.
I notice my kids always want to put it on. It gives them an immersive feeling that they are really out there hunting. They get to look like their cool dad, and my baby girl thinks it's just neato.
Face paint can be messy. I like using isplack, which is stumbled upon after my son used it as eye black for baseball. It's what I always use now, as it comes off real easy. You can get it some different colors, too.
3. Have them bring their BB gun or youth bow.
Before my kids were ready to shoot shotguns and rifles, I would have them bring their BB gun or youth bows on the hunt.
The big benefits:
- It allows you to teach them how to carry a gun safely without worrying they might make a mistake.
- It gives the kid a feeling like they are contributing even if you never intend for them to shoot at game.
I usually always bring a drink when I'm out hunting and that empty bottle would get filled with pellets before the end of the day.
4. Ground blinds are perfect for kids.
Ground blinds are very forgiving when it comes to hiding movement. It also helps that it can keep you out of the weather.
I try to make the blind as comfortable as possible. Its also helpful to give your kids a good view of the woods. They can be very helpful in locating game.
I usually have my kids looking out the back of the blind in case something sneaks up on us. That way I'm not contorting my back twisting around.
Bring plenty of blankets for them to keep warm or lay on if they get tired. Take plenty of of snacks and make snack time fairly frequent.
5. Don't forget the binoculars (and any other hunting gizmos).
Kids get bored fast, so a great way to get them involved is to hand them the binoculars.
I generally try to find something for my kids to do instead of just sit there.
- They can play with the rangefinder, and I'll tell them to look at trees and let me know how far out they are.
- Give them the bottle of powder to check wind direction.
- Have them bang around on a set of rattling horns
- Let them blow on a game call. Something like a doe can call is easy to use.
6. Boredom is a killer. Bring something else for them to do.
Books to read, magazines, coloring books, magazines and yes, even video games.
I really don't want my kid playing video games the entire time we are out in the woods. However, if that boredom is creeping in, I'll let him play games on my phone, especially if we've already been out for hours.
I'd rather have them in the blind and playing games for 30 minutes than sitting at home watching cartoons.
7. Hunt animals with a high chance of success, or hunt locations where you will at least see game.
I took my son on a lot of deer hunts early, and it was a mistake. We went to some locations in the thick timber and just didn't see much.
It got to point where he use to think he was bad luck. Explaining that this was just part of hunting was a learning opportunity. Still, I should have done a better job of planning it out.
Dove and squirrel hunting became two of his favorite hunts as we always had success. We also do more turkey hunting because I have a spot close to their roost, so we see and hear birds all day.
These days when I take my kids on a deer hunt, I set up overlooking a field where deer commonly feed. Even seeing a deer a few hundred yards away is a positive.
8. Hunt the optimal times and weather.
I learned awhile ago that getting my son up at 4:00 a.m. and going into the woods when its 0 degrees just isn't a good idea. Unless it's a special hunt with a limited season (like youth deer weekend), it's better to pick days with ideal weather.
I also find my kids like afternoon hunts. They are wide awake and ready to do something fun.
My son's favorite hunt lately is coyote hunting with me right around dusk. He controls the digital caller, and either it's a quick kill or we are headed home for dinner.
As they get older, you can work on toughening 'em up in harsh weather. When they are young, the nice, calm day with a beautiful sunset is more enjoyable.
9. Give them fun hunting or outdoors-related things to at home.
My daughter loves crafts, so I got her working on cobra braiding paracord into useful hunting items.
You can have your kids make game carriers, turkey totes and call lanyards. There are lot of tutorials around the web. And they do indeed come in handy for hauling game out of the woods.
There is something to say about making hunting items that are useful.
Also involve your kids when you make anything related to hunting, such as gun or archery targets.
10. Tracking wounded animals is an opportunity to hook them.
Tracking deer can be a rewarding experience. Kids usually do well in that environment. We are there with family, friends, other hunters and dogs. Its kind of a community event.
The first time my son went tracking with me, he actually found the first sign of blood in thick brush
When it eventually led to finding the deer, he was praised by everyone. It was really exciting for him. He told me I need to take him out of school the next time we have to track a deer.
11. Let them tell the story.
You have to let your kids tell mom, your siblings, family and friends about their hunting adventures.
You know how eager you are to tell your hunting buddies; kids are even more enthusiastic. Let them share the story (and even embellish the story).
I usually go over some things on the ride home, but once we get home, my kids will run straight to mom to tell her what happened.
In the end it's all about creating memories and being able to spend time outdoors with family. I do it as much as I can with my kids. And it doesn't matter if we shoot something or even see animals. Its just about sharing your passion and making it enjoyable for everyone.
You see, I lost my father when I was only 18. He introduced hunting to me in a way that was fun. The stories we created are ones that I vividly remember to this day. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I am grateful for every moment I spent with him in the woods.
Life can be so short. Don't pass up an opportunity to get your kids out hunting. Do everything possible to make it fun for them.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.