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Why More Kids Don't Hunt? - Part II

July 16, 2003

What does it take to give your kids a reasonable chance of becoming a successful hunter that truly loves the sport and maybe more importantly enjoys spending time in the woods with you? If I had to pick one word to best describe what it takes I would pick the word patience! We increasingly live in a world that doesn't understand what this word means, much less what it requires. We live in an instant gratification society where whatever we want is immediately available at a mall or drive-up window. Patience requires one to slow down and often think about another person's needs prior to your own. These too are virtues that are fast disappearing in today's world.

If you really want your son or daughter to experience the joy and satisfaction of hunting you will need to have the patience to do the following:

1. Spend time with your kids in the outdoors when they are young. Start this when your kids are very little and get in the habit of going for walks and hikes with them and let them experience the joy of being outdoors in God's creation. Share with them the satisfaction of being able to identify animals and plants and how they interrelate. Let them take things home that interest them and let these rocks and skulls clutter their bedroom and your home. When you go on scouting trips show them animal signs and show them were you will actually be hunting. They will remember the setting when you at a later date tell them hunting related stories.

2. Teach your kids how to shoot a .22 rifle or a bow when they are young. In our house I insisted that our children learn how to handle a gun even if they chose to never hunt. Even though our guns were properly locked up in the house, I felt that gun safety was as important as learning how to swim or ride a bike safely. As children learn skills like shooting, they feel as sense of accomplishment and more importantly your trust in them as a responsible young person. With adequate gun training your children will become advocates for proper gun safety with other children at a very young age, even when you are not present!

3. Let your hunting trips be appropriate for the age of your child. Most beginner hunters will do much better with a 1-3 hour hunt for starters. Squirrel hunting, from my experience, is one of best beginner hunts to start with. Squirrels can be hunted with either a light rifle or shot gun. They can be hunted anytime during the day, using either a walking or sit-and- wait hunting method. The weather conditions are also usually excellent during this season.

Rabbit hunting is another great small game experience where short hunts can also be action packed and successful. Often posting a young hunter and slowly working a narrow band of cover towards them can be a great way for them to harvest their first rabbit in a more controlled setting.

4. Select outdoor weather conditions that improve the comfort of the day. Kids have much smaller body mass, cold and wet conditions impact them more severely than adults. It is better to cancel a hunt because of poor weather than have a child experience a cold, nasty hunt. As they get older they will learn to handle the off-weather days of hunting but don't start with this experience. Make certain that you have snacks, drinks and tasty food that help make the day fun and provide the energy for an active day.

Also select outdoor gear and guns that fit the size of the young hunter. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to hunt in clothes and with equipment that is uncomfortable.

5. Lastly, put your kids first when they are young hunters. If you want your
children to be successful as hunters, you need to be in some ways, less successful as a hunter for a few years. That means you will spend less time hunting on your own and frankly probably harvest less game in any given season.

The pay-off for a few years of sacrifice as you help your child become a successful hunter is ten-fold! In a few years, as your kids become young adults, you suddenly will find this new, young and energetic hunting partner in your life. This new hunting partner will, in the end, add a whole new dimension to your life as a parent and maybe someday as a grandparent, that you ever thought was possible!

Although admittedly biased as a father, I really do believe that my kids are special people because of the time they spent outdoors as hunting and fishing enthusiasts. When I say this to some people they immediately point out that you don't have to "kill something" to enjoy being outdoors. Although this is true, these people miss the point that kids who hunt, really do develop skills that make them both more mature and wiser than their peers that do not hunt.

Learning to shoot a weapon and taking the responsibility of humanly killing an animal is serious business. As children develop these skills, they also develop a sense of self-confidence that frankly is difficult to achieve in our modern world. In addition, they gain a perspective on life and death which helps them appreciate the cycles of life and how important each day and each season is.

A Closing Thought

What is most important about teaching your children about hunting is not that they become hunters. The value of teaching them to hunt is that they understand that as a parent you cared enough about them to spend time with them sharing a tradition that is important to you! Why do we worry about what a child will become but yet fail to remember that they are someone today?


Copyright 2003 Bob Aslan. All rights reserved.


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