We here at Pro-Tracker are always excited about hunting, but this fall is one quite a few of us are anticipating more than others. Why you ask? Because this fall some of us are allowing our kids or grand-kids to tag along on their very first hunts. For anyone that loves to hunt, taking a young person along for the first time is a memory neither of you will ever forget and may only be trumped by the first time they take their own animal. There is nothing better than watching the excitement light up their expressions when they spot a deer or elk or the focus they exhibit as you explain how to clean and prep the animal after the shot has been made. Now whether your kids are going on a hunt for the very first time, or just tagging along, there are certain things we think are important for you to remember.
Kids are kids and mistakes can happen anywhere, however on a hunt mistakes can be dangerous. Make sure that you go over all safety rules prior to the hunt and ensure your young sidekicks understand the The why here is incredibly important. Young people as a whole are much more likely to pay attention and follow safety precautions if they understand why they are necessary and any potential consequences.
Take into account the attention span and requirements of having a child tag along. Not all children will appreciate hiking around in extremely rough terrain, or looking for game in inclement or extremely hot weather. You should also remember that children don’t have the attention span to sit out all day like an adult would, so try to pick hunts that are shorter in length to help keep up their interest level. You’re goal is to make hunting fun and educational, and taking into account the personality (and attention span) of your young travelers is absolutely essential in making this a good memory filled day.
Little people tend to have enormous appetites, and nothing can sour an excited kiddos mood faster than being hungry. Kids generally run on high unless they are asleep, and that means their metabolism runs on high as well. Add in all the hiking required for most hunts, and you’ll have one hungry kiddo. We recommend packing a good high protein trail mix (with m&ms, because they make all trail mixes better) and some jerky. Just make sure your packaging makes as little noise as possible so that snack time doesn’t cost you your dinner.
Don’t forget the sunscreen and a good hat. Nothing will sour a kid’s opinion of hunting faster than associating it with a bad sunburn. Your goal here is to make sure the outing is enjoyable and sunburns are definitely not!
Kids learn by observation, but also by asking questions. Be prepared to be peppered with every question under the sun during your hunt, and also be prepared to answer those questions. We know that hunting is generally a quiet sport, with minimal conversation, but when you’re introducing it to a young person conversation is essential. On that same note, don’t be afraid to be the one direction the conversation. You can pre-empt a lot of questions and make the trip much more educational and enjoyable if you’re an active conversational participant.
If you want to make sure hunting makes a positive impression, along with being an active conversationalist, let your kiddo help out! Kids absolutely love to feel useful and feel like they are a part of something. Don’t get so caught up in explaining that you forget to let them take part. Kids are generally good at spotting things with their young eagle eyes, so let them help you look out for animals or their tracks. Let them help by carrying some things in their own pack, setting up attractants etc. The more they participate, the more fun they will have and the more they will learn. This means a positive experience for everyone and also a longer hunt time for you since they are engaged.
We hope these tips help out anyone else getting ready to take a young person out for their first adventure into hunting. We wish every young person a wonderful first trip out and hope they have memories that will last a lifetime. We also must wonder if there are any tips we missed. If you’ve got some tips we haven’t mentioned, let us know! Happy hunting everyone!