Take Time for Turkey Hunting with Kids
PHOTO: A few months ago we posted a photo of a 15 year old young man Austin Ochsenhirt who was in the midst of chemo treatments to battle Leukemia. This weekend I had the privilege to hunt with this young man and his grandfather “Pap” at a Hope Outdoors event in STE Genevieve MO..We can proudly announce that Austin is not only in REMISSION!!, but he is officially a RAISED HUNTING turkey reaper!!!! Please join us in saying THANK YOU GOD!! – David Holder
If you have children in your life, you likely want to pass some of your outdoor passion and skills onto them at some point. You probably learned how to hunt from your parents or grandparents and have many fond memories of it. Now you desperately wish to be that kind of youth hunting mentor to the next generation. The spring turkey season is the perfect way to get them involved right now and teach them the skills they need. But turkey hunting with kids can be frustrating sometimes. It’s not always easy or enjoyable, and that’s especially true when you don’t take the right approach. If you miss certain truths about hunting with kids and don’t take the necessary preparatory steps first, it will be an uphill battle you’re likely to lose. What’s worse, you could risk turning them off of hunting for several years or throughout their lifetimes if you do it wrong.
But it’s obviously critical for more youth to get involved in hunting again. As each generation grows up and more people leave rural areas for cities, the number of hunters drops. That’s a huge problem. Hunters are largely responsible for funding wildlife and habitat projects across the U.S., and have a real interest in the success of those programs. Hunting can also teach kids many core values that are important and relevant in their everyday lives. So if you’ve been thinking about taking your kids turkey hunting, now is the time.
Remember Hunting Safety First
As you start turkey hunting with kids, you need to remember one thing above all. Make sure you take time to teach your kids about safe hunting practices. Even if they’re just sitting with you and not physically pulling the trigger, they need to understand what’s safe and what isn’t. That means you also need to demonstrate safe behaviors yourself. Kids learn mostly by observing role models in their lives. If you take time now to set a positive image in their minds, they will be more likely to be safe hunters once it’s time for them to go out on their own.
Tips for Turkey Hunting with Kids
There are a couple things you can proactively do to keep your kids happy (and you sane) while turkey hunting. That’s probably the biggest principle you can take away from this article: keep things fun. If your kids don’t have a good time or they feel like they’re being yelled at or ridiculed, they might be more inclined to pass on the next hunting trip. Not to say you should coddle them either; take advantage of teachable moments without resorting to yelling.
Hide Your (Kids’) Movement
It’s often been said that the hardest thing to teach a kid is to be still. Just look at them. They’re always reaching for something, fidgeting around, or not-so-quietly whispering something. Obviously all of the above are bad news when it comes to hunting turkeys. Wild turkeys have amazing eyesight and can notice when you even slightly shift your shotgun, let alone when your son or daughter is practically vibrating. In addition, the weather during turkey hunting season is usually pretty dicey, especially in the early parts of the season. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hunt in cold, windy, and rainy conditions. As you can probably guess, that’s some of the worst weather to try turkey hunting with kids. That is, if you’re exposed.
The easiest way to conquer those issues is through using a hunting blind. Within a blind, they can stay dry, feel comfortable, and have the freedom to move around a bit without jeopardizing your hunt. Primos® Double Bull Bullpen blind features 180-degree view and plenty of room for a couple kids and even a camera man. Placed on a clover field or hay field that greens up ahead of most other food sources, you can be sure you’ll see turkeys. Even if it’s all hens and jakes, just being able to watch turkeys in the wild is a valuable opportunity for your child. But a word of warning: a hunting blind should not mean a free pass for your kid to do what they want. They’re still learning how to hunt turkeys after all, which means holding still and being quiet. If they don’t learn that lesson while in the field, they will be set up for failure later on.
Turkey Hunting Practice Tips
If your child is of a legal hunting age and can actually hunt with you instead of just observing, you need to set them up for the best possible outcome well before you go hunting. Plan on practicing shotgun youth shooting skills beforehand until you feel they can make an ethical shot and handle the pressure. Let them pattern their youth shotgun on a turkey outline so they can feel confident about themselves and not fear the recoil. Teach them how to use their own Primos® turkey calls and practice with them in the weeks before the season. In the field, let them do a few calls themselves. It might not sound great, but that will be a learning experience in itself. Take time to watch turkey hunting videos together and make sure they understand the process as much as possible before you go out.
Keep it Fun
As mentioned earlier in the article, the best way to fuel the hunting fire in your son or daughter is to have fun with them. Turkey hunting with kids can be frustrating, but only if you go into it with the wrong expectations. Try to not pressure your kids into hunting with you; instead, ask them to go, but don’t push them if they don’t want to. Let them come to you. If they’re interested, go shopping with them and let them pick out some of their own Realtree® turkey hunting camo clothes.
Adopt a different frame of mind when you hunt with your kids. You’re not really out there to kill a gobbler; that’s just a bonus if it happens. You’re out there to spend time with your kids in a different capacity and introduce them to the beautiful sport of hunting. As such, keep hunts on the short side, especially if the weather is poor and you’re not in a hunting blind. As soon as they start losing interest or complaining, it might be time to pack it in for the day. But if you’d like them to stay as long as possible, bring some snacks and talk with them. Make it feel like a fun adventure with their mom or dad, not a boring time of being quiet.
Try Turkey Hunting with Kids
Remember that in the end, taking kids hunting can and should be a really fun experience for both of you. It should be a time of bonding, not frustration and anger. Also remember that hunting teaches life lessons that your child will really benefit from; don’t cheat them from it. Take time to be a good hunting mentor and role model for them, and you’ll gain a hunting partner for life.