01 Jun

How to Introduce a Youth to Hunting

Happy Youth Hunters

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

The competition between developing a youth’s love for the outdoors, and their love for electronics devices gets more difficult every day.

Gone, it seems are the endless summer days of kids playing outside and learning about the natural world around them.

It’s as important as ever, to instill in them the values you cherish and grew up with.

Hunting is one of those activities that many adults try to pass on to the next generation, but for some reason, and more often than we’d like, the effort falls flat.

Hunting is a great pastime to teach young people. It requires them to think critically, take responsibility, and develops confidence in their abilities.

So let’s take a look at how you can introduce your child to hunting in a way that they will enjoy, and be asking for more.

Phase 1 – Provide Formative Outdoor Experiences

In this first phase, we want to give your child a variety of interactions with the outside world. Go exploring in your backyard, just to see and observe what bugs, birds, and critters are around.

Let them catch, pick, and gather all kinds of things. Let them build that connection, confidence, and desire to learn about the outdoors.

Phase 2 – Appoint them as Your Hunting Assistant

If you had success in phase 1, then your child has gained appreciation and interest in nature, and will be curious for more. Make them feel part like they are a part of the activity. Show them how to scout for future hunts with your binoculars, and let them practice their game calls with you.

If you like to duck hunt, they will especially have fun learning how to use calls and decoys. Just going out to practice with good duck calls and some duck decoys will be a thrill to them.
If they are ready, they can even help with skinning and preparing the meat for storage. The key is to engage them, and never pressure them to do something they are not yet comfortable with.

Phase 3 – Provide Training in Basic Hunting Skills

As your child grows older, it is important to give them some proper training in more advanced hunting skills. Show them the proper way to safely use a hunting knife. When they are ready, a firearm safety and training class is appropriate. The better they can handle a firearm or bow, the better off they will be when it comes time for the real thing.

Check your local clubs and with state wildlife offices on upcoming classes and programs that will suit your child. They may need to pass a youth hunting education and firearm safety course before they can legally accompany you on a live hunt.

Phase 4 – Go Hunting, and Have Fun!

Once you are on a hunt with your youths, please do not forget to make it fun. Studies and surveys consistently show that having quality time with you and being outside is every bit as important to them as harvesting an animal. Practicing and improving their skills with you will keep them wanting more.

Match Skills with Equipment

It is recommended that youth hunters are not introduced to weapons like guns too early. This can be dangerous, especially if they are not mature enough to handle the weapon, and have not completed proper safety training classes.
Instead, teach them and have them practice with the wide variety of tools and equipment that every hunter needs to be skilled with. Teach them how to handle hunting knives, hatchets, folding saws, and multi-tools.

If you are more of a deer or turkey hunter, take them on your scouting trips to show them how to set up game cameras to determine good hunting grounds. Go out and teach them how to look for scrapes and sheds.

Youth Hunting with Binoculars

Photo credit

Safety First, and Always

Hunting is a very safe activity for a supervised youth. The key in that is “supervised”! When you are ready to hunt with your child, gently remind them that it’s safe as long as they remember their training, and that they understand that most accidents occur within close range of hunting partners. Always be aware; always make sure your child understand the rules of the game, and you will be rewarded with a lifetime of hunting memories with your children.