One of the biggest issues within the hunting community is the declining amount of people heading to the woods to hunt. The age of the average hunter is rising and not as many young people are hunting. As hunters, we alone are responsible for reversing the trend. The only way to do this is to introduce someone to hunting. It can be a neighbor, a friend, a relative, even an in-law. Introducing children to hunting is even better. Getting someone passionate about hunting at an early age is a good way to put them on track for a lifetime of hunting.
Getting a youngster interested in hunting is the best way to get started. You can do this by talking to them about your exploits or even taking them with you on your hunts. Don’t force them to go. A good way to ensure an enjoyable experience is to wait until they ask to go. Kids are curious and will eventually want to see what it is that dad or mom does when they go out into the woods.
Once you’ve decided to take a kid hunting for the first time, preparation is key. If they are going to be shooting be sure they have a weapon they are comfortable and have practiced with. Paul Korn of Tombstone Creek Outfitting has taken many children on their first hunt. He says one of the most important aspects in getting youngsters interested in the hunt is getting them involved in the hunt. “It can even be simple things. If you’re planning on hunting out of a ground blind, let them clear all of the leaves out so you can be quiet. The more you can give them to do, the more they’ll be into it…. Make them feel more involved in the process as opposed to just tagging along.”
Turkey hunting is a great sport to introduce children to hunting. There is interaction between the animal and the hunters. “If you have turkeys in the area, at least you can hear a gobble or hear a hen,” says Korn. A little excitement goes a long way for children. Scent also isn’t an issue when turkey hunting. A ground blind is another great tool that makes turkey hunting perfect for kids. “You can get away with a little noise. And you can get away with a lot of movement. Inside the blind, they can play with games. Bring a backpack full of things they can do,” says Korn.
Practicing with a gun or bow is pretty obvious. But Korn says there are other things that need to be worked on before going into the field. “A bird walking through a shooting window and into another seems simple enough. But youth can have a hard time. Things that seem easy to us may not be easy to them.” Korn says aiming at the decoy can be a great drill. Have the hunter transition from one window to the next while reacquiring the decoy as a target.
Handling slow days can be tough when hunting with a youth hunter. Korn says scouting can really help keep action fast or at least shorten a day. If he knows turkeys enter a field at around 10 o’clock, he doesn’t take a kid out at 5 AM. In cases like this, you can head into the field at 8 AM and get settled in well before the turkeys get there. It isn’t fool proof but he says the key is to maximize the time you do have.
Every kid is different. Some may be willing to sit for hours, while others are ready to go in 30 minutes. Be patient and be sure it’s a good experience for them. Remember, that day’s hunt is about them, not you. Eventually they will be ready to sit as long as you do. Like anything else, it takes time.
To hear the entire conversation with Paul, press play at the top of the page.