Research shows that fewer and fewer people are hunting each year. There are several reasons why this is happening. Baby boomers are getting old and can no longer hunt, parents aren’t passing hunting on to the next generation like they once did and kids are more interested in sports and video games than they are hunting. This is just a few reasons why we have fewer hunters in the woods than ever before.
Kids today are used to fast paced activities. Older generations had no problem sitting against a tree for hours on end in hopes that a big buck would walk by. Today kids want to be constantly entertained. Although I don’t agree with it, I realized that when my sons were born the only way I would be able to turn them into hunters is if I could make hunting fun and exciting. Sitting still isn’t something they excel at unless they are staring at a screen of sometime. If you are trying to get your own kids or grand kids into hunting below are a few tips that may help you peak their interest in outdoor sports.
START WITH SMALL GAME HUNTING
When I was a kid small game hunting was king, not whitetail hunting. Yes, everyone deer hunted when I was a kid but most kids and adults alike cut their teeth on squirrels, rabbits, and upland birds. What make small game hunting so enjoyable was filling a game bag was fairly common. My first time ever small game hunting I killed a couple of squirrels. After bringing them home we cooked them up and when hunting again the next week. Hunting small game is action packed and the success rate is high. Every hunter who wants to get kids involved in hunting should take them small game hunting. Kids need to be successful in order to enjoy something. Once kids fill the freezer with small game then they should try turkey hunting or deer hunting.
Last fall my son killed lots of squirrels with a gun. It taught him how to pick a spot on an animal when aiming, it taught him the importance of being quiet in the woods and he got to enjoy eating the game he killed which is an important part of it.
TAKE A KID TURKEY HUNTING
Getting kids involved in turkey hunting is also a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors. Calling in a tom is exciting, watching a longbeard strut and gobble often gets a kid hooked at a young age. Best of all most turkey hunting often requires walking around in the woods. Kids don’t like sitting for long periods of time. Turkey hunting is action packed and that is one reason my son got hooked on the sport at the age of 8.
Only after my son killed several turkeys and small game did we take deer hunting seriously. My son loves deer hunting but I make sure we never spend more than a few hours in the woods hunting. Much more than that and he gets bored. A bored kid gets burned out and a burned out kid will give up hunting.
I have interviewed many people for hunting articles over years about how to properly get kids involved in the outdoors. One thing I heard over and over from old timers about taking a kid deer hunting was the importance of the kid having a gun that fits them perfectly. I purchased my son a Howa .243 youth gun. It fits him like a glove and he can drive tacks with it at 100 yards. I also purchased an Escort youth shotgun for him. A youth hunter will likely miss if the gun they are using doesn’t fit them properly. Having a properly fitted gun is a must when introducing a kid to shooting sports.
On top of having a properly fitted gun when I hunt with my kids I typically hunt from a blind. Some hunters believe hunting from a cozy blind is cheating. I want my son to be warm and dry when he is hunting. If he is cold and wet he might not enjoy hunting as much. When he is older and a little more mentally and physically tough he can hunt from a treestand. My goal is to make hunting extremely enjoyable the first few years he is hunting.
HUNT FROM A BLIND
We hunt from a Redneck tower blind. We bring a heater, enough snacks for 10 kids and books to read. Last year he missed three or four deer before he finally killed a buck. After each shot I encouraged him. I never got mad, I never got discouraged. I just kept being positive. All the hard work paid off.
How many animals did I kill last year? One turkey. I never deer hunted one day. I never elk hunted one day. I spent my time building a hunting foundation in the next generation. If we as adults want hunting to continue on for a hundred more years we must make hunting fun for kids, we must invest in our kids and we must make sure they are successful. My kids enjoy video games, my kids enjoy playing travel sports. My kids also enjoy spending time in the woods hunting. Kids have fun playing baseball, football and outdoor sports. We as adults need to make sure we invest in outdoor sports with them the way we do their other passions.