Want to know what to pass on to your kids about hunting?
Everybody who considers themselves a sportsman has one big duty above most others: represent yourself and your love for hunting in a respectable way, especially to the younger generations.
This becomes a whole lot more important when the younger generations we're talking about are your own offspring. Passing on the customs and traditions of hunting to your kids is great, but with it comes a huge responsibility.
You're the one who can make the passion grow inside your kids, if you share the right things. These eight are good started, but it's up to you to complete the job.
Show them what it means to hunt by passing on these things to your kids:
1. Hunting almost singlehandedly supports the outdoors
Not every youngster realizes that license sales go to protecting wildlife and preserving public lands. The conservation efforts that all hunters directly or indirectly participate in help everyone in this country enjoy the great outdoors.
Even if you aren't a hunter, you should likely be thanking one for doing what they do.
2. Respect and consumption of animals is important
We know it, but the deniers don't: real hunters don't kill for the fun of it. That's called something else. It's usually coined poaching, sometimes "overhunting," and most generally referred to as dumb.
Hunters kill for other reasons, but each kill has significance and certainly leaves an impact. It's important that you are able to convey this to your kids, and let them know it's alright to feel emotional after a harvest.
You should also pass on the fact that each animal has a useable benefit, be it meat, skin, hide, antler, you name it. An animal should never be wasted, and a carcass should always be shown respect.
This lesson is made a lot simpler with some grilled backstrap and a 10-point rack, so take it seriously, but try to share the bright side of it, too.
3. "Responsibility" takes on new meaning with a weapon in your hands
You shouldn't avoid it: guns are dangerous. They're sometimes used for dangerous reasons, but not when they're used for hunting.
Sharing gun or bow safety, which is a whole other topic in itself, with your kids is paramount, and it's also one of the great things about hunting if you really think about it.
You're sharing trust, respect, and achievement when you're passing on gun safety lessons to your kids, and that's a fantastic kind of exchange.
4. Mother Nature is a powerful beast
It really is incredible, and part of sharing the love of nature and wildlife with your kids is done for you. You really don't have to say much when a buck slowly crests a high on a foggy morning, or a turkey gobbles from a few hundred yards away. But it goes deeper than that.
Mapping terrain, reading signs, watching the weather, and reading the wind are never going to appear the same to a youngster once they understand the circumstances of these factors on the animals they hunt. It's like opening up a whole new world.
5. Not everyone agrees with hunting
Sometimes, if they're introduced at a young age, hunting is one of the first things a child might encounter that "divides the line," so to speak. Rarely would a youngster willingly participate in something that could, in theory, wind up with their picture splashed on the internet with hate messages directed their way.
That's a frightening and exaggerated example, but let's be honest: hunting is not favored by the entire country, and some who are against it are vehemently against it.
Now there's no need to scare a little kid out of wanting to be a hunter by being this blunt with them, but it's a lesson you can ease into and begin to discuss more as your kids grow in age. How do you deal with those who view things differently than you? What is your response when you're criticized for your hobbies? These are difficult but important questions to ask.
6. Hunting is inclusive
There may be a bit of a fraternity feel to the community of hunters, but that's sort of by design. That's not to say anyone is excluded; on the contrary, hunters love introducing people to the sport.
When you take your kids hunting you're telling them that they can be a part of something big, something that makes a difference. You're showing them that the community is something they'd want to be a part of, and want others to join too.
It's fair to say that anyone and everyone who gives hunting a chance would be able to see the good things about it.
7. It's okay to step away
By "step away" we meant away from the modern day distractions we're constantly immersed in.
Cell phones, computers, television, school, work, traffic, politics, finances... the list could pretty much go on forever. When you're hunting, those things matter as little as you let them.
A deer doesn't care if you're checking Facebook or not, he's going to walk through those trees anyway. This is a wise way to help teach your kids that there's a time and a place, and that a little unplugging can go a long way.
8. It's one of the greatest things you'll spend your time doing
At the end of our lives, it's almost always the experiences that we look back on most fondly. And the experiences spent hunting, for some people, can end up being the most memorable moments of their lives.
Immersing yourself in nature, studying an animal and learning its ways, and having the self-trust to complete a harvest can be and usually is a huge accomplishment, and the feelings you have afterwards are tough to compare.
It might be a little lofty, but showing your kids how enjoyable hunting can be might just change their life for the better. Ask them when they're grown if they would have rather never started hunting, and see what they say.
Odds are they'll say they couldn't even imagine it.