I have always enjoyed taking youth hunting and fishing. It is partly to mentor, recruit, and ensure the future of our sport but what I love about it the most is enjoyment it brings to them. I get more joy from seeing the look on a child’s face after they harvest an animal than if I had if I were the one behind the gun or bow. Aside from all that, I also remember when I was that kid.
What Age is Appropriate for Hunting?
The age when a child or youth can legally carry a gun and shoot a big-game animal differs depending on where you live. Some states have no age limit. Others range from 10 to 16 years old and may include requirements about hunting as an apprentice or with a mentor. Many states also require a hunter safety course. Find out here what hunting age requirements your state has.
Preparation before taking a kid out:
Prepare them mentally.
- Preparation is essential to helping a child understand and enjoy a new hunting experience—and a critical aspect of that is mental preparation.
- How to explain Hunting to child: Hunting is about so much more than just harvesting an animal. It's exploring, bonding with family and friends, appreciating nature and the wonder of mountains and woods and wildlife. Sharing your excitement for that and explaining the circle of life—nature's way of taking and giving; when something dies, it gives new life to something else—is a great place to start a conversation with children and even toddlers.
Participate in other non-hunting activities
- Take them scouting
- Go shed hunting
- Share trail cam pics
- Plant food plots
- Create mineral sites
- Build Blinds
Practice Responsible hunting - A child's most influential teacher when it comes to good hunting practices is the one who takes them out most. If that’s you, polish up your own ethics then help youth learn be good stewards.
What kids should take away from the hunt:
Stewardship and respect. A good hunter learns respect for the animals, the land, and to accept stewardship over both.
Skills to help provide. Youth learn about resources in the world they can hunt and harvest. They develop skills that help them provide for themselves and their families.
Patience, control, and confidence. Hunting is a sport that requires diligence, discipline, and courage—all attributes that help youth gain self-confidence.
Hunting is Fun. The most important thing is to make fun for them. Don’t put pressure on them. You need to be there to congratulate them when they succeed but more importantly to encourage them when they fail.
If you haven’t done so yet, you should find a kid to take hunting. I think you will enjoy it. I know that do. And remember you were that kid once too.