Mentoring young hunters into the outdoors
The outdoors are your passion. And – like any true believer – you want to pass along that love to the next generation.
We get it.
But be careful. Sometimes, in our zeal to share what we most cherish, we start out with almost too much enthusiasm.
When it comes to hunting, for example, accomplished adults sometimes take kids out, but expect them to be able to act and do what they themselves can.
That’s often not realistic. Hunts with children need to be tailored to everything from their size to their age to their attention span.
So, with that in mind, here are five tips for introducing young hunters to the outdoors.
Allow for movement. Ever told a youngster to sit down, be quiet, and not move for hours on end? And have them able to do it? Me neither. It goes against their nature, especially the younger they are. Hunting from a ground blind is a good way to handle that. Kids can move to a degree, yet still hunt.
Pack snacks. Kids, with their racing metabolisms, don’t always eat a lot in one sitting. But they’ve got the munchies all the time. Fruit, granola bars, sandwiches and the like all keep them warm and satisfied.
Pick the right gun. Many hunters start their careers with a hand-me-down shotgun or rifle. Sometimes, though, the gun is just too much for the youngster, in terms of caliber or gauge, weight or length. Get one that they can shoot comfortably and practice with it before the season so that pulling the trigger is fun.
Compromise. Speaking of fun, make sure each trip to the woods is just enough. Some kids may be able to handle being out all day. Others might last a few hours. So rather than turn any outing into an endurance test, stay just long enough that they want to go back again later.
Define success. Every young hunter wants to bring home game. It’s a sign that they’re one of the group, the “same” as older, more accomplished hunters. And it’s fun to help them achieve that goal. But be sure to emphasize the experience, too. A big part of the joy of hunting is the camaraderie, the sights and sounds of nature and the stories shared. Make sure they know that.
Most of all, remember when taking a youngster hunting that it’s about mentoring above all else.
The goal is to get them started, but in the right way. Show them how to have an enjoyable, ethical and above all else safe experience that will be memorable for all the right reasons.
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See also: Ground blinds can be key to hunting success.