Getting youth involved

300Winmag

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Oct 4, 2014
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So, I have a question for all you guys out there who have kids. How did/do you get your kids to love hunting? I grew up loving hunting for as long as I can remember. All I've ever wanted to do is chase deer, bear and anything else I could hunt. My issue came up the other day when I was watching some Fresh Tracks episodes on YouTube and my son said"how can people hurt animals like that and be excited." I almost hurt my neck as I snapped my head over to confront him, but was afraid to be too forceful in my explanation. Now my son is only 9 but now I have this sick feeling in my stomach thi king how did I fail to pass on my love for the outdoors and hunting. I explained the whole theory of conservation, but I'm really struggling here and could use advice if you've ever run into this situation.
 

Boomerusaf

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I can speak from the child's perspective and not the Father's. My Dad never pushed me to hunt. When I did tag along, he taught me the woods. He made it interesting even when it was "boring". It was never about killing, it was us hanging out. Over time, my passion surpassed his and now I'm nagging him to go out on windy mornings and sitting until dark!

Just make it fun and not so intense. Obviously safety has to be intense! His passion will not match yours initially. No way around that!
 

300Winmag

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I must honestly say that I haven't taken as much time passing on my knowledge and spending time with him outdoors. It's nice to get other people's opinions and experiences. Thanks for the response, it's got me thinking.
 

Big Fin

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For our family, it was camping and just being out there, a lot Boomer mentioned above. If we were going to camp and have a fire, or Matthew got to drive the boat, or if we had a chance of finding some fossilized rocks in eastern Montana, he was gung ho, no matter the weather or conditions. I think he found those adventure and learning tangents to be really fun times. When we caught or shot something, a big deal was made about the meals that came from it and how we processed those animals to become our food. He got to see new places, new landscapes, and even if we didn't see much for fish or game, he got to do some cool things out in the big wild that his classmates probably wished they had the chance to do. We did a variety of different outdoor activities, many of which I would have done differently if it was me and some of my hunting buddies and all of which I am thankful we did as a family.
 

ntodwild

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I literally took up archery hunting because of the climate and time of year when my son was old enough to start tagging along. We have always been an outdoor family and spend time yearly camping, scouting, ATV riding and so on. Trying to remove some of the external factors that make things difficult for kids can make all the difference in the world when it comes to having a good time (which is what it's all about for kids) and a miserable experience. I never pushed my son and he isn't what you would call an avid hunter but when season rolls around every year (he's in college now) he makes time.
 

brnsvllyjohn

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My son's first out of state deer hunt was when he was 1 year old. We went as a family on 9 out of 10 out of state hunts. In state he went fishing and hunting with me most of the time. Seeing his dad and other family members hunt and fish was normal for him. My son has two sons that now have hunting licenses and he took them to the duck blind long before they could carry a gun. Starting as young as possible helps a lot in my opinion. If they only get their info about hunting from school or the internet they will most likely think we are all wrong for harvesting game animals. At least here in Ca. it seems that way.
 

WyoDoug

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My dad made me want to go hunting with him every year. He never forced the issue. He taught me that hunting was all about the men folk getting together and chatting, talking crap, telling big stories. That to me was always more important than filling my tags. Though I always made a serious effort to tag out as often as I could. That comradere is way more important to hunting than getting an animal in the freezer every time.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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I experience hunting far differently than my dad and graddad did as adults. I grew up loving the camaraderie and "camp time", as they did. I still enjoy that now for sure, but for most of my adult life it's been far more about a good adventure and stretching myself physically/mentally than anything else. I don't know what it would have been like to have someone like that as a hunting mentor. Maybe I would have loved it, maybe it would have been frustrating, I don't know. I do know that there is no recipe and each kid is different.
 

mevertsen

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My daughters are 4 and 13. My oldest has three tags.

Keep it fun and not worth about the kill.

My youngest likes going out, playing in the mud and collecting rocks.
 

MNElkNut

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Minnesota
so keeping it fun in the field is obviously important, but also when talking or planning a hunt at home...ask their opinions. as I tuck in my boys at night (twins,age 11) we talk about hunting in some facet. it usually starts out with something like, "I can't wait...." or "remember when...." or "what is/was your favorite....". something like that to create that "hunting bond" with them. I think creating that "hunting bond" is something really special to develop with your kids. I have it with 2 of my 3 (one of my sons and my daughter, 15). The other son likes to hunt too, but is more into balls sports right now. We also celebrate the table fare. Every aspect of the hunt should be approached with excitement and fun!
 

ElkFever2

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Iowa
The nature of modern hunting is that you hurt animals and get excited, but the relationship between these 2 things is complex and very difficult for non hunters to understand. I raise my kid so she knows where her food comes from. She's 2 and has seen me butcher a lot of game. We also view, touch or listen to just about everything that flies, swims, or walks, and on a regular basis. If she doesn't become a hunter she still knows the conditions of factory farms, and if she becomes a vegan she'll know the farmed crops displace wildlife habitat. Knowledge and experience of these things make killing game more palatable for youth when they feel the weight of the reality of the alternatives food sources.
 

JLS

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Somewhere in the basalt rocks
One of my three girls hunts. All were exposed the same way. None were pushed, and one was actually relieved when I told her I was just fine if she didn’t hunt.

Let it be his decision, and be okay with it if he doesn’t hunt. You can’t force it. Just let him know you love him regardless and don’t assume he knows that.
 

JM77

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Casper, Wyoming
In my family hunting is part of our life. Never once did any of my three daughters, or any grandchildren yet for that matter, speak negatively about the hunt or the harvest. They grew up around hunting and all my daughters participated, two of them hunt every year and are raising their own little hunters. The only thing I am careful of, is taking young hunters when the conditions are brutal, extreme cold, deep snow or very physically demanding.
 

Fj605

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Arvada, CO
This is a topic that I consider as I have two little girls about to be 4 and 2 this month. I want them to have empathy and appreciation towards wildlife but also understand the purpose and responsibility that goes into hunting. I'm not from a hunting family but it's become an important part of my life over the last few years. My wife, on the other hand, came from a family where hunting season was a pilgrimage. Even if my kids never hunt a single animal, I want them to understand it.
 

unclemoe

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my kids are 7 and 5 now and since they were born they were exposed to everything hunting and fishing. I would watching hunting shows with them when i fed them with a bottle and still do it now, make sure you watch good shows that treat the animals with respect, not the ones who only care about the trophy. I also exposed them as young as i could to it, i have pictures of my 2 year old helping me clean a wood duck and then "help" me drag out a deer from the woods. It did make it harder to get it done but it will be worth it in the end.

I bring the kids to shoot bows with me and both have their own compound bow that they shoot at the Deer shaped target and i always get super excited when they "kill" the deer, its all about making them have fun while doing it and feeling like they are a part of it.

Last year i was hunting at my family cabin and shot a small doe, i found the doe and quickly ran back to the cabin to grab the boys and had them "track" the doe for me then they helped me field dress the doe. again the whole time getting very excited every time they found blood and when they "found" the deer i thanked them and made a big deal outa it.
 

300Winmag

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This discussion has made me rethink my priorities in life. It's not until now that I've realized how important my influence is on my son. Thanks for your different points of view.
 

unclemoe

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This discussion has made me rethink my priorities in life. It's not until now that I've realized how important my influence is on my son. Thanks for your different points of view.
i didnt realize it until last year when i came downstairs and saw my 6 year old with his ipad on the couch watching hunting videos on his own on a sat morning instead of cartoons made me realize how much he emulates me.... maybe not always for the best
 

RockinU

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Texas
I honestly don't remember ever putting any specific effort into bringing my children to hunting, and having just asked my daughter, she doesn't either. They just grew up in a house where we put an emphasis on eating wild game. We understand where our food comes from, and how it gets to us, and the process that involves. I'd be completely OK if either of my kids didn't want to hunt, just so long as they understand it's roll in the world, and in conservation.

My son actually wrote a very eloquent paper for school in defense of hunting as part of conservation, and did a really good job of defining The North American Model. I think it just comes from us living it, and never making a big deal of it. It's just normal. I think that's how I'd approach it with your son, show him it's a normal part of life, and nothing cruel, or mean.
 
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