Raising a new generation of hunters and conservationists is the key in continuing age-old traditions, like turkey hunting.
Getting a youngster excited about an activity like hunting can be challenging. There’s no guarantee that you’ll even see any animals while you’re hunting, let alone bag the one you’ve been waiting for. Combine that patient effort with keeping kids as quiet as humanly possible, and you’ve got more than a few obstacles to overcome.
However, turkey hunting can be super exciting for youngsters. Here are 5 ways to involve kids in the incredible sport and keep them involved for life.
1. Scheduling is key
Both adults and kids alike love having something to look forward to. Setting the date for your turkey hunt early will build excitement in your youngster. Use this excitement to start to educate your hunting protégé on what the conditions will be. Show them your blind setup early, let them read a few guides, or watch a few videos on turkey calls with you.
The more they’re excited about the hunt beforehand, the easier your job will be once in the field.
2. Outfit them to their needs
The weather is still fickle when the turkey season opens, and an uncomfortable, chilly child is not a fun friend to have in the blind. Again, planning ahead of time will allow you to let them know exactly what they’ll need to stay warm. Picking out their clothes the night before with them will bring a fresh sense of excitement and they’ll be less resistant to packing on the layers if they get to pick them, too.
As far as the hunt itself, if you’re mini-hunter will be participating on their own, make sure you have found the perfect shotgun for their needs and size. Many youth-sized shotguns boast shorter barrel lengths and smaller grips, perfect for your young turkey hunter.
Abide by all state safety regulations and make sure they’re comfortable with the firearm. That means practicing at the range ahead of time, and putting in some dry fire, situational training with them.
3. Include them in your inner hunting circle
Now, this isn’t to say you have to take your kid out every single time you hunt, but involving them in conversations you and your hunting buddies are having will promote a sense of curiosity and excitement.
When they’re in the same room as everyone, discussing prime spots or the newest turkey, your youngster probably has antennae ears going and is learning more and more.
Making your youth hunter feel a part of the hunting community that brings us all together is another way to ensure that they’ll stick with that community for life. Make them feel like they’re becoming an “insider,” because they are.
4. Explore the field
Whether you let your little star roam the hunting area before the day of the hunt, or allow them time on the walk to the blind to see what they can find, it’s important to engage them with nature. A huge part of hunting is learning to read the signs and inevitably, those skills are only learned through getting out there and finding them.
Quelling curiosity on the day of the hunt, also, will be key in keeping them satisfied in the blind. If they’ve never visited the spot before, they’ll want to get out there and get their hands dirty, which isn’t ideal when you’re waiting for the perfect tom to reveal himself. Instead, when they’ve already explored the area around the hunting zone, they can focus on keeping an eye out for the main prize.
5. Keep it short and sweet
For the first few forays into turkey hunting, your youngster will probably grow antsy as the morning drifts on. After all, it’s hard to sit still in the blind, especially if there’s not much action happening. While you should pack your kid a book and a few snacks for the blind, sooner or later they’ll start to rustle.
Instead of forcing them to stay out in the field and ending the experience on a negative note, keep it short and sweet the first few times. That way, when you end the hunt, they’ll be excited to go back out again with you, even if no turkeys crossed your view the first time.
Introducing new youngsters to hunting is all about good associations. In the end, they’ll just be excited to spend quality time with you. If you can help them love the community and sport of hunting, too, then that’s an added bonus.