Anytime you take a youth hunting the main objective is for the kid to have a positive experience. In other words, it is about having fun. Don’t force a kid to sit still for long hours. For younger kids, plan shorter trips and be sure to take along some snacks and water.
Check the weather a day or so ahead. You don’t want to force a kid to go out when the temperature is well below freezing or storms are rolling in. Let the young hunter know what to expect before the hunt.
Be sure the kids are dressed properly for the outing. If the weather is cold, make sure the clothing is suitable to keep the youngster warm. Carry along some extra gloves and hand warmers or even an extra jacket. A blanket can come in handy to cover up the young hunter when the temperature begins to drop.
Portable pop-up blinds are great for hunting trips. They are easy to set-up and offer plenty of room for two hunters. Most blinds are waterproof in case rain tries to dampen the trip. Shooting houses and portable blinds allow for the young hunters to move around without spooking the game.
Make sure the gun fits the youngster’s hands and frame properly. A kid will want to go hunting more often when they know they are using their own equipment. Allow the child to practice shooting before heading out on the trip. Adults should review firearm and shooting safety with the kid before leaving on the trip.
When outdoors, instruct the youth hunter about the various species of wildlife. Look for tracks and other signs from different animals to keep the child interested in the outdoors. Birds, squirrels, rabbits and other wildlife will grab and hold the child’s attention.
For some youngsters a portable video game will help pass the time and keep the kid from getting bored. Remind the youth hunter when the prime time to be watching for game arrives. Take along a pair of binoculars and allow the kid to look for game and discover objects in the distance.
Don’t force the kid into a marathon hunt. A youngster’s attention span is not very long. A hunt of around two hours or less is plenty of time to introduce them to hunting. It may take a couple of hunts in short, but increasing increments keep a kid interested. With each longer duration, you help develop patience.
The hunt doesn’t have to be about shooting some game. It is the time outdoors and the experience that matters. Don’t try to force a kid to shoot something if they aren’t ready. Younger kids may want to watch dad or granddad make the shot.
Be sure to give praise and acknowledge the smallest of accomplishments achieved by the youngster. Making the trip positive will reinforce the eagerness of the child to want to go out again. Remember, it’s all about having fun, for the kid.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com