Children look up to their parents for leadership and guidance more than any other person in their life. If you enjoy hunting and want to create for your family an enduring legacy, bring them with you. Too many hunters think that children are too loud and undisciplined to be able to go hunting, but that is only because they have not yet learned the essentials needed to succeed in this area. As their adult role model, it is up to you to instill these important values into their lives.
Think back to your first hunt and how excited you were. Chances are that you went along with someone else more experienced than yourself. You probably did a few things that you now realize are not considered to be appropriate hunting behavior, but your mentor remained patient and taught you what you needed to do. If you’re not sure you are equipped with what is needed to teach a child to hunt, consider these helpful hints.
- Hunting is gender neutral! Many people continue to hold to ideas that girls should not be allowed to hunt, but whether your child is a girl or boy, both genders will benefit from the learning. You may invest a lot of time into a girl who after her first hunt may never want to do it again, but that same potential exists with a boy.
- Before the hunt even begins make sure your child is part of the planning process. They may not understand what exactly is being planned, but just feeling like a part of the team preparing for the hunt gives them an added sense of belonging and raises their potential to listen to your teaching.
- Familiarize them with the equipment you will take on the hunt. If using firearms, teach them the parts of the rifle or shotgun, how they work together, and how to safely operate it. If bow hinting, explain the parts of the bow and how to properly align a target with the bow sight.
- Utilize hunter safety courses as an encouragement to get them to that next step. Most states require such courses and licensing so you might as well teach your child the legal aspects of the hunt in order to be a responsible member of the community.
- Target shooting. You want them to succeed in future hunts so explain to them how to best take down their target. If hunting deer for example, they should know where to shoot a deer – the best place to shoot a deer in order to make a clean, sudden kill.
- You probably know your child better than most anyone else so you know whether or not they can be quiet for extended periods of time while in the outdoors. Even so, it would be of great benefit to take your child on several practice hikes before you go on your grand adventure. They may get the head knowledge before your hunt, but there is no better teacher than practical experience.
- Take not of the things you wear, why you wear them and then outfit your child in the same way. They not only want to be like you, act like you, and look like you, but chances are you wear those items for very good reasons. Your child should be no different in the things they wear.
- As you proceed through these steps to get your child to go on the hunt you may be tempted to get upset at their lack of knowledge or maturity, but keep that feeling in check. One of the greatest benefits of teaching a child to hunt is their growth in responsibility, maturity and self-worth. Patience can go a long way in nurturing these qualities while impatience can do a surprisingly amount of damage to the process.
- When your child makes their very first kill, their emotions can range from pure joy to a mixture of remorse for taking a life. This is a critical point of instruction for your child, to understand why they just did what they did and what it means for them and the family. You probably talked about this in great detail leading up to the hunt, but at the point of the kill it is essential that you recognize the emotions they are going through and help them sort through those feelings
- You well know that the kill is not the end of the hunt. The animal must be properly transported and processed in order to be consumed. Know that your child may or may not be physically or emotionally prepared for the full experience of butchering an animal. If they are, take the time to help them safely dress it out. If not, let them take a break while you do the work. In either case, once you get the meat home, teach them the best ways to prepare different cuts for meals and allow them to share in the spotlight of providing meat for their family and friends.
Take note that this is a lot of work and can very well end without a successful kill, but chances are you’ve been on your own empty hunts. The real treasure of teaching a child to hunt is not in bringing home the trophy but in the time of bonding together during the process. Your child will only be a child for a short time and you have a great and wonderful opportunity to bring to them an experience like no other. Don’t let someone else have this life-changing experience with them, make hunting your family legacy!
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