when is the right time to take your youth hunting | Raised Hunting

When Is the Right Time to Take Your Youth Hunting?

Youth Hunting | When Is the Right Time to Take Kids Hunting

Doesn’t it seem like each fall disappears in a crazy blur? Between schools starting back up, getting ready for winter, and of course hunting seasons, it’s easy to lose track of time. As a result, we tend to push some things off our plate, resolving to do them in the mythical “later” category. But “later” might not happen. That’s why it’s important to dedicate time now to life-altering things like taking your youth hunting. Think about it; if you go hunting with a child and patiently pass on your outdoors knowledge to them, you will theoretically create another grounded and responsible adult who’s connected to their food source and the world. Hunting teaches ethics, responsibility, patience, and respect. What more could you want for your children?

So it’s obviously important to get your kids in the outdoors when they’re young. How young? That depends entirely on you and your child. Some kids are ready to go afield much younger than others. It can be challenging to teach them everything, but family hunting is also a great way to spend more time with your kids doing something you love. In this post, we’ll look at some common signs your child may be ready for youth hunting, and some tips to help you teach them what they need to know.

Signs They May Be Ready for Youth Hunting 

when is the right time to take your youth hunting | Raised HuntingIf you notice the following behaviors about your son or daughter, they may well be ready to head to the woods with you. First, if they’re asking to come with you on a hunt, it’s definitely time to start doing some kind of outdoors activity with them. Even if you’re just doing a mock-hunt (discussed below), it’s a great time to get your youth outdoors.

Similarly, if they routinely ask a lot of questions about hunting-related activities, show them in the field instead of simply telling them. Better yet, put them in situations where they can learn the answer on their own without having to explain it. If they are going on make-believe hunts on their own, they’re probably ready too!

If they are intensely curious when you bring a wild game animal home, they may be ready. Encourage them to hold or handle the hide, antlers, feathers, etc. and teach them throughout the butchering/processing task. Some people worry their kids may be too sensitive to see a dead animal. If they seem to be bothered by it, explain the emotions you feel when hunting and that you’re respecting the animal by eating it around the table.

General Rules of Youth Hunting 

One of the best and most important things you can do to teach your child about hunting is to be patient. Kids are going to be too loud in the woods, make mistakes, have short attention spans, and do all sorts of other things that will make you think about quitting. Keep your emotions under control and use any mishaps as teachable moments.

You also may want to start them on smaller animals, such as birds, squirrels, or rabbits. These seem to carry less emotional weight for most kids, and are more their size. As they get used to hunting small game animals, start to introduce larger ones like whitetails.

Try to make every hunt or time in the woods as fun and enjoyable as possible for them. It’s not the time for all-day sits or extreme temperatures either. Keep the field adventures short, comfortable, and enjoyable. The more fun they have, the more likely they are to want to go back. From there, you can slowly introduce reality to them without putting them off.

Emotions of Youth Hunting

Think back to your first successful youth hunt. It may have been exhilarating. Or it may have caused some tears to flow. Teaching your kids beforehand about the emotions they might feel is a good approach. Watch hunting shows with them and show them the wild game you have killed. How do they react? When/if they make a marginal shot and are kicking themselves for it, encourage them. Let them know that it happens to everyone. But as long as they do everything they can to find the animal or exhaust all possibilities, they haven’t done anything wrong. Also let them know that killing an animal shouldn’t be done lightly, and that they deserve a lot of respect by hunting ethically.

First Field Trip 

If they seem like they’re interested in hunting and you have done a few of the steps above, it’s time for your first hunting trip together. Ask them if they’d like to go hunt with you in a ground blind somewhere. Obviously if you’re hunting with kids, you shouldn’t go on a high-stakes hunt after a hit-list buck or you’ll just get frustrated. Instead, simply set up a ground blind in the backyard where you can watch wildlife, even just squirrels or rabbits. Use the time as an opportunity to teach basic hunting skills (e.g., how to be quiet, how slowly to move, how to listen and look for animals, etc.). If they like sitting with you, you could bring a Gamo® .177 or .22 caliber rifle with and have them shoot their first squirrel or rabbit. This is assuming that they have gone through all the necessary firearm safety courses and are legally able to hunt, of course. If they are interested in bow hunting, consider sending them to bow camps for children where they can learn about archery. If they’re really interested, consider getting a Bear Archery® youth hunting bow.

Moving Up to Larger Game Animals 

when is the right time to take your youth hunting | Raised HuntingAs they get better about hunting small game animals, it might be time to introduce them to larger ones. If they’re not quite ready for a full day in the woods, take them out after you get an animal to help you track the blood trail. After you shoot a whitetail, for example, follow the trail and check to make sure they are down. Then bring your kid out to “help” you find it. Show them where you shot it, and help them stay on the blood trail. With your helpful nudges, they should eventually lead you to the deer. Explain how grateful you are to them and that you could have never found it without their help. This encouragement and the excitement of finding a deer usually cements their interest in youth hunting. Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious with kids, so let them see it in your actions.

After they’ve helped you in the woods, try a few co-sits together, where you’re both actually in the tree stand or ground blind with the purpose of hunting deer. While there’s not a lot of required hunting gear for kids, make sure that they are dressed in appropriate and comfortable youth hunting clothes like Under Armour® clothing. Stop by Scheels® to load up on any essential hunting gear for them. Offer help or advice to them throughout the trip, but also use it as an opportunity to test their skills and knowledge. If they do really well without your help a few times, they’re probably ready for their first deer hunt all by themselves. If possible, try not to impose too many quality deer management rules on them their first year. Let them take a doe, a spike buck, or a mature buck – anything they want. This will keep them interested and lay the foundation for future hunts.

Get Started Now 

Taking kids hunting can be a lot of work, it’s true. But youth hunting is also some of the best quality time you can spend with your child. If you start exposing them to the outdoors and wild game at a young age, they will be much more likely to become confident hunters one day. And you’ll have created one of the best hunting buddies you could ever have.

processing game youth hunting | Raised Hunting

Processing Game With Youth | Youth And The “Dirty Work”

Processing and Preparing Wild Game I Leading the Way for the Youth

processing game youth hunting | Raised HuntingThere is truly something special and spiritual about the fall, cooler air, the changing of the leaves giving way to the first snow of the year. Fall is truly a magical time to put on the Realtree and hit the woods.  Fall is also the season of the harvest. Not only harvesting game, and processing game, but also for farmers. The hard working and dedicated agricultural producers of our Country begin to literally and figuratively reap what they have sown, providing a means to take care of us here in the United States as well as many countries overseas.

Of course, you cannot think about fall, and especially the month of November without thinking about the tradition of thanksgiving. Giving thanks for all we have, that too is a very magical and spiritual thing itself.  Giving that fall is the season of harvest and a time reflect and give thanks on the bounties that God has provided, perhaps it’s only fitting that hunting season occurs during this time of year.  Having the ability to head out into the woods, and enjoy the cool fall atmosphere with friends and family, enjoying the bounty that nature has provided is something that all of us should be thankful for.

One of the most popular characterizations of hunters by non-hunters is that we do not appreciate nor respect true animals we are pursuing.To them, all we care about is all letting the GoldTip fly, and nothing more past that. If you are a hunter, you know that this premise could not be any further from the truth.  Sportsmen and women do more to conserve and protect our natural resources and the wildlife that we pursue than anyone.This goes along with many other non-game species as well. We give billions of dollars annually to help manage our wild landscapes and the animals that live within, and we self-impose limits and restrictions to ensure that others can enjoy these resources for generations to come. Hunting and the hunting lifestyle instills ethics and  an appreciation for our environment and our natural resources. It teaches hard work, discipline, compassion, and unity. You see it’s not all about the kill, it’s about enjoying nature and harvesting a hearty and healthy food source to help feed our families. We are thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy nature in such a way!

The Other Side of Hunting

processing game youth hunting | Raised HuntingWhen we talk about the sport of hunting having the ability to instill a work ethic, many would have you believe that it is all about the work that goes into making the hunt happen. While that is certainly the case, the work doesn’t end once the animal is one the ground.  One of the best ways to get youth involved in the sport of hunting in a way that will help to teach them what it means to truly “harvest” an animal is to get them involved in the “dirty work”.   Harvesting, processing game, and cooking your own harvested meat usually requires a lot of work, especially if you are planning to process the game yourself. While the small game doesn’t require much effort (other than packing the Gamo) as say a white-tailed deer or elk. Cleaning and processing wild game is a skill and requires attention to detail and there is not a better way to learn than “hands-on”.

If you are introducing a youngster to the art of self-processing your game, sometimes it’s almost better to start out with a larger animal like a white-tailed deer. Reason being is it’s easier for them to see what you are doing, and there are opportunities to get them involved right away. Regardless if they are holding a leg, or holding a light getting them involved early helps to ensure that the lessons you are instilling take hold. It’s can be very easy for a young mind to wander, getting them engaged is critical.

Talking them through the process is good, showing them the process is better, letting them help while explaining the “why” and the “how” is best.   It is important for them to learn and understand that if you plan to harvest an animal, you had better be prepared to put in the time after the trigger is pulled.

Though big game animals are great for illustrating the principals behind cleaning and processing wild game, for their first solo attempt, nothing beats working on a smaller animal like a squirrel or a rabbit. Although the process is a little different, game bird species like quail and waterfowl are also excellent starter animals. Though the process may be different, the concept is still the same!  You might just surprise at just how many do not take the time to properly educate young hunters on the process of “field to freezer”. Will the pickup bits and pieces along the way? Sure, and is there something to be said about learning by doing?  You bet, but by taking the time to step them through the process and teaching them how to use a knife effectively you can certainly save them a lot of time and frustration.

Never Too Late to Brush Up

Now, you might be thinking “yeah this is all great, and I can see teaching my child how to field dress a deer but we take our game to a processor”. If you are one of the many who elects to have their game professionally processed, that is fantastic as well. There is not a thing wrong with having your harvest processed by a professional.  That is your choice!  At the end of the day, it is all about the lesson that comes from the harvest, and that is simply “respect the animal”.

processing game youth hunting | Raised Huntingprocessing game youth hunting | Raised Hunting

As we have made mention several times up to this point, processing wild game is certainly a skill. The skill necessary to effectively process wild game can certainly he honed over time. However, there are many of us out there who have probably never really be taught the “proper” way to process wild game. Whether you are taking the animal to your home for processing, or you a the type who prefers to debone the animal in the field there is certainly a right and wrong way to complete the process.

If you fall into this category, don’t be ashamed. There are many just like you!  Regardless if you have never been officially taught yourself, or you just want to brush up on your techniques there are opportunities out there to do just that.   For starters, pay a visit to your local butcher. Generally, they are more than willing to discuss proper cutting techniques, types of cuts and can generally provide you with a few helpful storage tips as well. If you are looking for a something that is a little more hands on, many states offer “field to freezer” courses through their fish and game departments.  These courses provide hands-on learning opportunities that can teach everything that you need to know to clean and process both large and small game.

Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor

Teaching a youngster that the work isn’t over once the trigger is pulled is a very valuable lesson that will help them develop into excellent outdoor men and women.  Giving the tools and information they need to be able to properly clean and process the game the harvest is a really important piece of the whole hunting experience.  The final piece of the puzzle that helps paint the whole picture is enjoying the fruits of your labor, and preparing a meal that consists of the game you have harvested.

There is no doubt that cooking is a very technical skill that can often require many hours in the kitchen to perfect and hone the craft.  Luckily, when it comes to a wild game there is a plethora of menu options and recipes that are available either on-line or in a wild game cookbook that anyone can complete and enjoy.

Click Here For Raised Hunting Wild Game Recipes!

From grilling, jerky and baking to crockpot meals, there is an abundance of options that even a youngster can master in just a few tries.  The wild game lends itself to be very easily incorporated into a wide range of ingredients, herbs, and spices and with a little research and practice; you can be eating well all winter long.

Having a youth hunter involved with not only the harvest, but everything that comes after (cleaning, processing, and cooking) really helps to them to understand the entire process that is involved in harvesting an animal.  It helps them to understand that you if you don’t plant to consume the animal, or provide the animal for consumption by someone else, then it are simply not worth harvesting the animal.  It helps so them not only the importance of ensuring they utilize the animals that they harvest, but that wild game is also excellent table fare and can be easily prepared in a short amount of time.

As mentors in the outdoors, you have the ability to set the example when it comes to youth hunters and the experiences that they have in the great outdoors.  In order to ensure that they are as active, passionate and share the conservation values that was passed down to you from your mentor.  As you find yourself in the outdoors this fall, especially if you are fortunate enough to find yourself sharing a tree stand or turkey blind with a new or young hunter, just remember the responsibility that you have to set the example and not only teach them how to hunt but to ensure that they are equally prepared to do the dirty work that comes with harvesting wild game.  If you take the time to do that, then the hunting heritage that we love so much will be in good hands for many generations to come, and we can rest easy knowing that our fish and wildlife species will continue to be a priority and be managed for, for generations and you will have done your job in passing the traditions along!