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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.

Why Youth Hunting is so Critical Today

Why Youth Hunting is So Critical Today

Bowhunting Education | How Youth Bow Hunting Can Make Lifelong Hunters

Surely you’re familiar with the popular idiom, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Here’s a surprising fact for some: this isnt just about crappie tactics. It’s really about the value of teaching over just doing for someone else, which is especially true for youth hunting. Most of the time with children, it’s just easier to do something for them (e.g., tie their shoes, answer their math question, etc.) instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. But they’ll never learn and will always depend on you for that task. As parents, it’s critical that we equip our kids with the knowledge and skills to grow up and do things on their own.

This is an extremely important lesson for youth hunting. Sure, we could always feed our kids venison. But that’s cheating them of the amazing experiences that the autumn woods hold for archery fanatics. Bow hunting doesn’t just teach us about the natural world, the resilient wildlife species that inhabit it, and food awareness. It also teaches us virtues like patience, respect, ethics, confidence, responsibility, and emotional control. It doesn’t take much imagination to agree that more children would be better off as adults with these traits.

But on a larger scale, hunter recruitment and retention is extremely important for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Hunters are consistently at the forefront of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration efforts. As hunter numbers decline, so too does the funding and interest in these causes. Introducing children to the sport is the cure-all solution. Here are some tips and techniques to help introduce your child, relative, or family friend to youth hunting.

Awareness in the Early Stages

One of the first and most necessary things you should do is to get your youth interested and excited about hunting. This is fairly easy to do as most young kids are fairly interested in wildlife and nature already, but some will take to it slower than others. Have them watch your favorite bow hunting programs, such as Raised Hunting. Take them on walks in the woods or farm to explore new things. In the late winter and spring, take them with to go scouting and shed hunting. Teach them why deer rub trees and shed their antlers, and make it feel like a scavenger hunt. If they get tired or bored, accept that their attention spans will be shorter and be willing to leave early.

Try sitting in a blind with them where they can get away with some fidgeting and movement without spooking wildlife. Hopefully they can watch turkeys and deer at close range and feel the excitement that goes with it. Also show them the animals you harvest with your bow, so they can get an up-close view of the animal they are chasing. Make your excitement contagious when you’re showing them so that they can feel the same way.

This stage needs to focus on keeping things fun for them. You don’t want it to become a forced march for them against their will. If they have to hike long distances and get yelled at for goofing off, they may not be so inclined to go out again. The biggest thing you can do to help is just trying to have fun while you’re outdoors with them. Try not to be as rigid as you usually are while archery hunting on your own, be willing to laugh and joke with them, and don’t scold them unless it’s a dangerous behavior. The fun memories are ultimately what will get them to come back to try it again.

Time to Pick Up the Bow

If they seem interested in being outdoors and hunting in general, the next step is to get them their own youth hunting gear and a bow to practice with. Start young kids (i.e., 5 to 10 years old) off with a small compound bow that’s easy to pull back, such as the Bear Archery Scout compound bow for kids. Also be sure to grab some Gold Tip Falcon 35 Arrows, and a Tru-Fire Junior Release. You can even use round-tipped play arrows for a while. They can practice with these to grasp the basic concepts and safety considerations until they are able to use a youth compound bow. Most states allow youth hunting with a bow at ages 10 to 12, provided a licensed hunter accompanies them.

You can find youth compound bows for sale at almost any sporting goods store, like SCHEELS, near you or bear compound bows for kids through Bear Archery. Either way, they can help you find one that fits your child well. Like any hunting gear for kids, it’s tricky business because you don’t want to get one that’s too large for them, but don’t want to buy a new bow every couple years as they grow. Try to find a happy middle ground between these two approaches. Regarding the size, a proper bow shop can match a bow to your child’s frame, and determine the best draw weight. Start small at first (i.e. generally around 15-20 pounds), but allow them to work up the strength as their form improves. If you start too heavy, your youth may pick up some bad habits that will need correcting down the road. They won’t enjoy practicing and it could even discourage them from continuing to hunt.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once they’ve got good youth bows to fit them, you need to make sure they practice. As with any skill, the more they practice, the better they’ll get. The same is true for youth hunting. But as in the first step above, you need to keep it fun for them. In other words, don’t tell them they need to practice 20 arrows a day or you’ll never be good enough to shoot a whitetail. Hopefully that’s common sense, but it needs to be stated. Instead of that approach, get them interested in practicing on their own by setting up a small 3D target range in your back yard or taking them with to an archery range. When they get to shoot at anything from whitetails to dinosaurs to aliens, you can bet they’ll stay interested. Even for adult bow hunters, it’s nice to have some variety! Get them comfortable shooting from ground level before moving to an elevated position.

Raised At Full Draw Camps
(video)- Raised At Full Draw Camps, educates and involves the youth in the outdoors. These camps are to save the heritage of hunting and to pass it on to the next generation

If they seem really interested, you may want to send them to youth summer camps to learn some more archery skills, practice with peers, and just generally have a fun time. The Raised at Full Draw (RAFD) bow hunting camp exists to help youth learn archery and hunting techniques through hands-on outdoor education activities in a fun camp style of learning. It follows the curriculum of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) book, and ultimately does lead to bowhunting education certification.

Another nice way to keep them practicing is to start a weekly family bow hunting practice session, where the whole family gets to work on their shooting skills. A family that bow hunts together stays together. Or at least that’s what they say, right? Keep it interesting by playing different archery games and challenging each other in friendly competitions. For example, the best shot of the week gets to choose a fun meal for the family. Or perhaps they get out of doing dishes or mowing the lawn that week.

Why Youth Hunting is so Critical Today

Take Your Youth Hunting

If they’ve practiced like we discuss above, they should be ready for youth bow hunting in a real situation soon. You’ll have to make that call based on the accuracy, consistency, and dedication of your youth. It’s usually required to sit with them during the youth hunting season the first couple times in a blind or tree stand, so you can advise them in a pinch and observe how safe they act in the tree stand. Set them up with a Rage broadhead to ensure their quarry won’t go far.

If you feel like they are acting safely and responsibly, and could ethically make a good shot, you may decide to let them hunt on their own the next year. This can be a nerve-racking decision, but you have to let them “fish” on their own at some point.

Congratulations! You helped create a potentially lifelong bow hunter, who will likely teach their kids and others someday, thus ensuring the future of our cherished sport. And if we all introduce at least one child to the tradition of hunting, our future looks brighter than ever.