For those of us who are both hunting enthusiasts and parents, there are few days we look forward to more than when we can finally take our kids out hunting with us.
We remember the long days spent with our own parents, out in the woods experiencing hunting for the first time, and we want to give our kids the same kind of experience, a day that they will nostalgically look back on when they are grown up and have kids of their own. Here are a few tips on how to your kiddo's first hunting trip as great as yours:
Don't think you'll be as productive and successful as a day spent hunting alone.
Some parents get lucky and bag a big buck on opening day with their child's help, but more often, you can't have it both ways. You either make the day special and fun for your child or you spend it thinking the whole thing is about you and that your son or daughter is simply there to observe. That decision is up to you, but be careful with your choice: it could impact your relationship with your child - as well as your kid's opinion of hunting - for years to come.
Don't ask your daughter or son to simply come along so they can watch you stare down the sight of a gun.
Often, hunting can involve sitting still for very long periods of time to get the perfect shot. Kids hate this, so for your child's first hunting experience, take them to an area where they can move around and rest or play on their own when they get bored. This will allow you to stay out longer and will assure that your son or daughter has fonder memories of this day years down the road. Most kids will love just being outdoors with you, but you'll be pushing that if you ask them to sit with you in a tree stand for hours at a time, so head to the blind instead and save the stand for another day.
Don't forget to pack a picnic.
As hunters, we can often get so caught up in the experience that we forget to eat entirely. Your child will not be the same, and taking a long break in the middle of the hunt to enjoy a fun meal and some playful conversation with your kid will turn the hunting trip into a great bonding experience. Sure, you might miss a few deer in the meantime, but it's a small price to pay.
Don't get mad or judgmental when they inevitably miss their target.
Were you Jesse James when you were 12 years old? We didn't think so, so be nice and encouraging. Someday, your kids will probably be able to bring down a deer at the drop of a hat, but not the first time they ever fire a gun.