Instilling Hunting Ethics In Our Youth
Ethics, many of us “understand” the word and can most likely apply it to our everyday lives. Living an ethical life can sometimes means different things depending upon who you are and what your background is. Webster defines the word ethics as “Rules of behavior based upon ideas of what is morally good and bad”. If you take this definition literally (and most of us do) then there are codes of ethics for almost everything we do on a day to day basis. From riding the bus, to crossing the street, this list goes on. This includes hunting ethics.
For most of us, our code of ethics was instilled in us at a very young age, beginning with our parents or guardians. They taught us the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. For most of us, a little reinforcement was often necessary to drive the point home. (Steal a piece of candy from the grocery store…BAD!) (Help and elderly neighbor mow their grass…GOOD!) The Point is that most all of us were given the structure and tools needed to one day become ethical adults at an early age. These lessons were often reinforced through various activities such as school or sports that we were involved in along the way, all helping to shape us into the men and women we are today.
The sport of hunting is absolutely no different. As a matter of fact, many would argue that the sport of hunting might be one of the best tools to help educate someone who is going youth hunting for the first time the importance of life, family and conservation. This is often a point that is lost among those who are less indoctrinated into the hunting lifestyle or the sport of hunting. The common misconception is that it is all about “the kill”, and while that can certainly be a highlight it is much, much more than that.
Youth Hunting Lessons
Exposing a youngster to the hunting lifestyle through a youth hunting or mentor opportunity is a very big responsibility, and should be on every hunter’s bucket list. For many, it will be their first time every being around a firearm or a bow, and it can be very intimidating. Sometimes it is simply the act of putting on the Realtree Camo pants or jacket that makes it exciting! The point here is that youth are very impressionable, and when it comes to installing conservation and hunting ethics, it is important to do it right.
One of the best ways to ensure that you are doing all you can to teach your youth hunter right from wrong in the woods is to make sure you are always communicating. Remember that you are a teacher, and they are your student. Having an appreciation for the sport of hunting often comes from the effort that is required to be successful. This is an excellent lesson that can be applied to everyday life; you get out what you put in! Keep communicating! Help them to understand the “why” as much as the “how”.
The reality of it is that the more time you spend in the woods with your youth the more opportunities you have to be an example to them. The more time you spend taking a youngster out youth hunting the more opportunities you will have to show them the right way from the wrong way, the more opportunities you have to educate them on the topic of conservation, on the importance of taking care of the land and being a good steward of our natural resources. There are no two ways about it, simply spending time in the outdoors with a youth hunter teaching them how to be an ethical hunting by being the example is the absolute best way to ensure that your youth hunter has an understanding of what being an ethical hunter means.
Keeping It Fun
The early you can introduce a youth hunter to the sport of hunting, the better. It can be important to develop an interest early in life before other distractions begin to compete for time. Now, no one ever said taking a very young hunter to the woods was an easy task, or at times even a fun task but that is all beside the point. Sometimes, it is just about being out in nature with them whether you are packing a Gamo air rifle looking for squirrels or just flinging a few GoldTip’s down range at your McKinzie it is all about keeping your time in the field fun and exciting.
If you get lucky and harvest and animal, fantastic! However taking the time to show them the wild things that live outside our towns and cities, and educating them on the responsibility we have as hunters to ensure that the animals we chase live and thrive is even more important. It is this love of wildlife, nature and conservation that drive us all to hit the woods every year, and the conservation ethic that has helped make us who we are. It should be the responsibility of all hunters to see this legacy and conservation ethic passed on to the next generation, so if you have the opportunity to expose someone, especially a youth to the sport of hunting, we hope you will take the opportunity to do so!