Most of us hunters who also happen to be fathers of small children dream of the day that we can bring them out as our apprentices. Yet with video games and Barbies and Power Wheels, kids face more competition for their attention than ever. What happens if your child finally gets old enough to take out hunting, and he or she has no interest.
In other words, a nightmare scenario.
So I started hatching a long-term plan for getting kids into hunting. By starting young, and building the excitement and mystery about the outdoors, my plan is to have them chomping at the bit to come out into the woods with me. My plan has three simple, progressive steps.
Step 1: Get the Kids Into the Woods
The first and most important step is to get the kids out into the outdoors. This is something you can theoretically do as soon as they can walk on their own. There are low-impact hiking trails everywhere. You can take kids on a hike — it doesn’t half to be miles long, just as long as you get out of view of the parking lot. When I do this, I want my kids to be engaged with the woods.
|Child Binoculars||Wilderness Whistle||Map Compass|
When they’re geared up with some binoculars, a whistle, and a compass, they’re not just out for exercise. They’re on a mission. I make sure they get back in time for a drink and a snack. Now they associate woods with adventure. The seed has been planted.
Step 2: Get Your Kids to Stay in the Woods
Anyone who’s hunted deer or turkey knows that, more than anything else, a successful hunt requires patience. But patient is not in the top ten list of words I’d used to describe my kids. If they’re going to become successful hunters, they’ll have to learn to sit in the woods for a long time. They’ll also have to stay quiet and still, but that can come later.
There are plenty of things to make kids not want to stay in the woods. Like mosquitoes, or the unexpected squall. A ground blind is the perfect solution. It’s collapsible, lightweight, and pops up in about thirty seconds to provide a shelter. Bass Pro has a kids ground blind… it’s like having their own little fort in the forest. Who wouldn’t love that?
Step 3: As Long as We’re Out Here
Now it’s time for the final step. As long as the kids want to go in the woods, and want to stay in the woods, shouldn’t we give them something to do? Maybe something to hold, draw, and aim? This is an important step, but it’s not as big of a deal as it seems.
Think back to when you were a kid off running in the woods or the creek. Didn’t you ever bring along a knife or a walking stick, or some kind of weapon? It’s a natural feeling. Probably one coded in our DNA.
So I’m betting most kids who like going in the woods would love the idea of carrying a bow with them. My kids aren’t big enough yet, but I’m already eyeballing the #1 youth bow at Bass Pro Shops: Bear Archery’s Brave set. It’s got a 15 to 25 pound draw, not enough for deer hunting but plenty for target practice at 20 or 30 yards.
Now they have something to hold when they’re out there in the woods, in the ground blind. How long until they ask, “Dad, this time can I go out alone?”
And there’s hope for future generations.
What about you? How did you get your kids into hunting? Please leave a comment and share?