Here is how to get your non-hunting parents afield.
There are countless articles out there about how to get young hunters into the woods where they can enjoy our precious natural resources. It seems it is just assumed these days hunting is passed from parents to children.
But that isn't always the case. There are plenty of people out there with non-hunting parents.
So, here's a unique challenge. How do you get your non-hunting parents out into the woods for the first time to experience all the joys of hunting season? We have some ideas on that.
Sell it as a food gathering opportunity
We're assuming if you're reading this that your parents aren't vegetarians and likely enjoy eating meat. Maybe they have even enjoyed some meals from animals you've harvested. So, how do you get them to go from that to joining you on a big game hunting expedition?
Well, first we think you need to extoll the values and healthiness of the most free-ranging and organic meat there is. That's the fun part. Second, you'll probably want to underscore how rewarding the hunting experience makes your meals when you know exactly where your food is coming from. That's pretty fun too, and hopefully enough to convince them.
It's possible you might be able to get your parents to make the jump from bystander who enjoys meals to wanting to buy a hunting license simply by finding a game animal that is too tasty to pass up.
Maybe it's venison, maybe it's dove (a great beginner game animal), maybe it's wild turkey. If you can find an animal they can't get enough of, you're one step closer to your goal.
Start small and slow
Let's face it, hunting involves a HUGE learning curve. If you weren't taught by your parents, and weren't mentored by someone who knew the ropes, you have likely already had plenty of struggles before you found success. You don't want your parents to go through those same struggles you did, especially if they're older.
I highly suggest watching the video above of a guy who converted his formerly anti-hunting parents. This is what I mean by starting small; take them on something like this pheasant hunt.
It's also a smart idea to take them to a hunter education course and give them a better idea of safety procedures and fill them in more about what hunters do. Invite them as a guest at hunting camp. Maybe you just ask them to sit with you on a small game hunt for squirrels. We're talking baby steps here.
Above all, emphasize hunting isn't just about shooting an animal. It's about getting in touch with and enjoying nature.
Think of it like taking a 12-year-old out for their first deer hunting experience. You don't want to overload them. If they sit with you and get bored after a while, take them home. You're not going to foster a love of the outdoors by forcing them to do something they don't want to do.
Also, don't be afraid to ask if they want to try hunting. Sometimes they might just be waiting for you to!
When you do get them afield, don't start them out with something difficult like bowhunting. (Unless that's what they want.) Instead, take them out to bag a few squirrels or rabbits. Then you can progress to more challenging game.
Don't emphasize success
In trying to recruit more youth hunters, there is so much emphasis put on finding optimal hunting opportunities as quickly as possible. There's a big emphasis on getting a deer, squirrel, or bird on the ground as quickly as possible because there's concern that children's attention spans aren't long enough to stay interested if nothing is happening.
With an older hunter who's doing it for the first time, like your non-hunting parents, I think it's the exact opposite. You must frame it as a relaxing activity where you have fun regardless of whether you are successful or not.
Getting a big buck their first time out may cement them as hunters, but I don't think it's the only thing that will hook someone who has never hunted until their older.
At the end of the day what you're really selling is a different kind of outdoor experience. I think you'll have greater odds of success if your parents already enjoy things like fishing, hiking, or camping. If you can find ways to incorporate those things into hunting with them, you're likely golden.
Make it a family experience
I feel like if you have children of your own, you're probably already ahead of the game here. If you're teaching your own kids to hunt, this could naturally lead into getting your parents interested in what their grandchildren are doing.
In many ways, youth hunting season may be the best first exposure for an older hunter who has never been before. The weather often isn't too cold or too hot, animal sightings are plentiful, and the odds of success are high. Once your parents see how much fun their grandkids are having, that may be all it takes.
If you don't have children, you can frame it another way. Ask them to come out simply because you want to spend time with them. Have some good heart-to-heart talks in the stand. Try to make it a truly special moment.
If your mom or dad truly enjoy the moment, they'll want to experience it again.
Enjoy the outdoors?
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