Start Preparing Youth Hunters Now for Deer Season
Deer season is approaching fast. Many states are in full license allocation mode and hunters should be starting to think about how to prepare for this upcoming season. Whether you are planning to take youth hunters out for the first time or another deer season, there are a few considerations to think about during the summer.
What is the Right Age?
This is the hardest question a parent has to face when deciding on taking kids hunting. One thought is that your kids can never be too young to start getting involved in the outdoors. While this is true, there is a big difference in getting kids involved in the outdoors and actually hunting with them. Youth hunters have to have the attitude and ability to be part of the hunt. Kids with a prepared attitude should be able to deal with harvesting an animal and have an understanding of the great responsibility that brings. Hunting with kids that can accurately shoot, be patient to sit for long stints and be able to physically and safely deal with environmental conditions are all important ability aspects.
So what age should I start hunting with my kids? While there are regulations in many states as well as mentored youth specific programs for hunting, there is no specific age when a child is ready to hunt. You as a parent will know and be able to assess this summer how another year has added to their attitude and ability when it comes to being ready for this year’s deer season.
Formal Hunter Education for Youth Hunters
Besides the experience and training, you can provide your youngsters, formal hunter education programs are ways to teach your child about hunting. These hunter education programs are often mandated for kids and required before young hunters can take to the woods or buy a license. Each course is designed to teach new hunters about safety, regulations and being a good sportsperson. Courses usually consist of a full day of classroom work followed by a test of knowledge, which requires a passing score to be able to become a licensed hunter. These courses are offered throughout the summer months through your state wildlife agency and in most cases in cooperation with local sporting groups.
Mentored Youth Hunting Programs
Age, and more importantly attitude and ability, determine when a kid is ready to go hunting. But how does one build those skills with youth hunters? The answer is what hunters have been doing for years and has recently become part of most state wildlife agencies programs. Mentored youth hunting programs are designed for kids who either do not meet the legal age or are not all the way there enough to fully take part in hunting. This allows younger kids the ability to learn all aspects of hunting, including harvesting certain game species within a set of specific guidelines. A powerful way to get and keep kids involved in hunting. As part of preparing for deer season, review your state game laws now in summer and see what requirements there are if you are thinking about taking kids hunting for deer this season.
Practice Hunting Safety Throughout the Summer
Safety in hunting comes down to weapon safety. Whether it be with a firearm or bow, nothing is more important than making sure your kids and other hunters are all safe while afield. Summer is the perfect time to practice safely operating a gun and getting comfortable shooting and handling it. Cover all aspects of gun safety such as handling the firearm, loading it safety, safe shooting and range and hunting etiquette. A good choice to start kids out with is a Gamo air rifle, which is easy to handle and has low recoil to get kids comfortable shooting safely. Summer camps that provide instruction on shooting, hunting and the outdoors such as the Raised Hunting Bow Camps are a complete and valuable resource to get your kids involved in the sport.
Hunting Safety Tips
- Know your surroundings. Focus practice this summer on getting kids concentrated on the act of hunting. The most dangerous time hunting with kids, for them and you, is when they get distracted and forget about their surroundings with a loaded firearm.
- Be sure of your target. Teach your kids that you only pull the trigger when you are 100% sure of your target. When hours of hunting finally pay off with a deer within range, you need to be completely sure of your shot and what is around, behind or near it before you take the shot.
- Practice then practice again. Summer gives you the opportunity with longer days to spend more time practicing safety. Head out to the woods and practice situations your youth hunters may encounter during deer season. This will instill safety as priority one while hunting.
Summer Preparation Activities for Youth Hunting
Along with safety and hunter education, there are a number of activities you can do this summer to prepare kids for deer season. Although there are much more, these three activities will have you and your kids ready to go on opening day.
- Spend time in the woods. A child’s hunting experiences will be much more enjoyable if they know exactly what they are in for. Taking kids in the outdoors often over the summer provides them a chance to explore the woods with you and get comfortable with all the sights and sounds. They will learn how to walk through the woods, look for deer sign and understand how game moves with the goal in mind of preparing for deer season.
- Gear up. Do not skimp on youth hunting clothes and other gear. They will be more comfortable and more likely to enjoy the sport if they are outfitted like a hunter. Start with Under Armour youth hunting clothes matched with a good weatherproof layer and topped off with a kids orange vest and hat. Also be sure to get quality boots to keep your youth hunters comfortable and dry. Gear up in the summer so clothing and boots can be broken in before deer season. The most important piece of gear, the youth bow or gun, should be very familiar for the youth hunter by now. If they do not have a bow or gun specific for their size then go get one!
- Plan Hunts Now. Each hunt is more critical than usual when taking kids hunting with you. A bad trip or two can quickly turn off the enthusiasm. Summer is when you want to plan your youth hunting Scout areas that are not too far off the trail and have little hunting pressure. Consider if you will be hunting from a stand or blind and be prepared with several locations within walking distance so you can move as patience wears. Have these spots prepared and ready to go come opening day.
Preparing for deer season now in the summer is even more important if you are planning on taking kids hunting in the fall. Youth hunters should be properly educated and have the attitude and ability to be part of the hunt. Focus summer activities on safety and basic hunting skills in these months leading up to deer season to ensure successful youth hunts this fall.
Don’t know where to start? If your kid is the right age to begin hunting, then go ahead and start with the gear. Check out Whittaker Guns for great prices on youth guns, bows, and gear! After the gear, get them acquainted to it and go over hunting safety. Then follow the rest of the blog’s advice all the way up until deer season!