Yeti

Kids and hunting

neffa3

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So I just got back from a bit of a failed hunting trip where I took both of my kids (7 and 10) hunting for the weekend and it has me pondering all sorts of things related to kids and hunting.

1. So there are two general ideas for getting kids into hunting. One is to take them along as soon as they show interest, make it fun and easy and enjoyable, and slowly build up to this. The other is to hold them back until they are actually ready for the activity. I have tried and mostly failed at the first method with my kids. But my grandfather implored the latter method with me. I now unconditionally love hunting. And my kids, well they like it, but I'm not sure I'm setting them up for long-term success. There's a lot of drive you can build for an activity by making it exclusive, which is what my grandfather did. I don't think I went deer hunting until I was at least 12 or 13, and didn't get to go to elk camp till either 14 or 15.

2. Sacrifice... There are only so many days we get to hunt each year (at least for those outside of the free-for-all of Montana). How much do you sacrifice your season for your kids? How much does your family sacrifice for your hunting? We only get two weeks here in WA for deer season. I spent one watching kids soccer and took the kids on the other this last weekend. I can count the # of hours of actual "hunting" I did this deer season on one hand. Now it's a 340-ish day wait.


And because no one likes a post without pics...

Here they are pretending their butt pads are computers.
1635177564173.png
As you can see, one is cold-blooded like me, the other runs hot.

And here is what they did why we tried to watch a hill side in the afternoon.
1635177637275.png

And for sh!ts and giggles, what is this giant orange horn-butt spider?
1635177703425.png
 
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brockel

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Answer to #1. We started taking our kids out checking traps. Made it fun in the off season for the oldest collecting dry dirt and bones. Then we started taking them out antelope hunting as it’s a fun laid back hunt. The oldest now goes coyote calling with me when it’s nice out. This is the first year she’s asked to go elk hunting so she’s going to go with us around thanksgiving to look for the wife’s cow. A nice laid back elk hunt.

Answer to #2. There’s only so many seasons you can hunt with your kids before they are off doing their own thing
 

Hilljackoutlaw

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I was around it my whole life on both sides of the family growing up in PA. Each side had a deer camp. My father, grandfather's, uncles all made deer camp seem like Walt Disney world to us kids. Every aspect of it was a learning and heroic thing to do from gathering wood to cooking the dinners (when grandma didn't bring it to us), to being the beer bitch while the older guys played euchre. Everything was a test to see if you were ready to take the next step at deer camp. The first time I was allowed to play euchre was the coolest thing ever and everyone at school heard about my quarter gambling exploits.

But growing up in rural PA hunting is just part of life so it's what you did. The schools even shut down for opening day and dad would let me skip Tuesday and Wednesday.
 

wllm

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As an adult onset hunter sans kids I can't really speak to hunting but can semi relate it to camping/skiing/hiking.

My parents took the third? approach, well this is just what I want to do so you're going to do it. Obviously activities were modified bit to make it fun for kids... but there were lots of death marches, cold hands, etc that you just kinda had to deal with.

I was over camping when I was in college and really didn't do it until I started hunting after college and got to do it on my own terms.

Per that, I imagine I will take my dads approach which was, hey these are the things I love spending my time doing. There is no moral superiority in them, it's just what I enjoy, I'm going to teach you all about them because I'm geeked on it, and your stuck getting carted around until you're a teenager so you are coming. At the same time I'm fully supportive of whatever your into and if as an adult hunting isn't your thing that's absolutely fine.

2. If there has one thing the forum has taught me it's always hunting season somewhere .

I don't support the idea of organized sports. Along with Randy's don't own tools if you want to hunt there should be a whole bit about how Baseball, Football, Soccer, and Hockey are massive wastes of time and should be avoided at all costs. ;)
 

neffa3

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Answer to #1. We started taking our kids out checking traps. Made it fun in the off season for the oldest collecting dry dirt and bones. Then we started taking them out antelope hunting as it’s a fun laid back hunt. The oldest now goes coyote calling with me when it’s nice out. This is the first year she’s asked to go elk hunting so she’s going to go with us around thanksgiving to look for the wife’s cow. A nice laid back elk hunt.

Answer to #2. There’s only so many seasons you can hunt with your kids before they are off doing their own thing
I think that's great.

But... if you have a couple of kids, spaced out a few years, your looking at 10-15 years where you're at peak physical capability but instead you're walking old logging roads while listening to a constant stream of whisper fighting 10 yards behind you...

Yes, I recognize that my hesitancy to embrace this is selfish. But it's real.
 

PAhunter

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Having done this with my three (start em young, keep it fun,...) the one thought I'd offer is to think about taking them one at a time. That one on one time with you is a big big deal. Plus it minimizes the shenanigans in pic #2. ;)

My youngest will soon be 18. My 22 yo daughter is pretty hooked on hunting. My middle daughter liked it as long as the action/harvest opportunities were high, but she hasn't hunted in 2-3 years now; honestly I think her personality would keep her from being a persistent hunter regardless of how she was introduced to the outdoors. My son is youngest and he is also hooked on it. There was a lengthy time in there for each of them when I doubted my strategy, but looking back I wouldn't change it. All of them were hunting (with their own tag) not later than 8 years old.

And for #2, Brockel's answer x2.
 

ShootsManyBullets

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I'd start em with some high volume shooting activities like doves then maybe quail. Throw in some crappie fishing when the action is hot. Young kids get bored easily. They like seeing game and camping out doing "guy stuff" like pooping in the woods and building fires.

Maybe a day or 2 of tagging along for now on some shorter hunts packing a BB gun or something but they're probably not going to be ready for real big game hunting for a bit. Even then I'd consider some doe tags to start. The deer hunting in your area isn't exactly the best in the world so they're not going to see a lot of deer most days, at least ones that you can harvest.

It gets easier around 12-13 depending on your kids maturity level, size/strength, etc.
 

neffa3

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As an adult onset hunter sans kids I can't really speak to hunting but can semi relate it to camping/skiing/hiking.

My parents took the third? approach, well this is just what I want to do so you're going to do it. Obviously activities were modified bit to make it fun for kids... but there were lots of death marches, cold hands, etc that you just kinda had to deal with.

I was over camping when I was in college and really didn't do it until I started hunting after college and got to do it on my own terms.

Per that, I imagine I will take my dads approach which was, hey these are the things I love spending my time doing. There is no moral superiority in them, it's just what I enjoy, I'm going to teach you all about them because I'm geeked on it, and your stuck getting carted around until you're a teenager so you are coming. At the same time I'm fully supportive of whatever your into and if as an adult hunting isn't your thing that's absolutely fine.
Yes. But can you see how selfish that is? And I completely don't mean that in any negative way. I feel much the same. But my Mom has really opened my eyes to this, partly because this wasn't what they did all the time. We did our time in the cold. But they really sacrificed their time to allow us kids to pursue our passions as equal to their own.
I don't support the idea of organized sports. Along with Randy's don't own tools if you want to hunt there should be a whole bit about how Baseball, Football, Soccer, and Hockey are massive wastes of time and should be avoided at all costs. ;)
I said that verbatim when my kids are younger. But are you really going to tell your little girl she can't play soccer when she asks? Are you not going to support her when she does well? Talk is one thing, but walking that walk has proven impossible for me.
 

neffa3

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Having done this with my three (start em young, keep it fun,...) the one thought I'd offer is to think about taking them one at a time. That one on one time with you is a big big deal. Plus it minimizes the shenanigans in pic #2. ;)
You think I would have learned this eons ago right? I mean I've made this proclamation a dozen times this year alone, but I made the mistake once again. Solo they are completely different people. My daughter in particular is a hunting fool when she's not around her little brother. She accepts the suck better than most adults.
 

brockel

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I think that's great.

But... if you have a couple of kids, spaced out a few years, your looking at 10-15 years where you're at peak physical capability but instead you're walking old logging roads while listening to a constant stream of whisper fighting 10 yards behind you...

Yes, I recognize that my hesitancy to embrace this is selfish. But it's real.
Right but eventually they will be the ones doing the hunting and you will get to enjoy the hunt with them even though you aren’t the one squeezing the trigger. For me I get just as excited when my wife is the one doing the actual shooting and I can’t wait till my kids are old enough to actually do the shooting (they are 7 and 2 right now).
 

Huntkook

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So I just got back from a bit of a failed hunting trip where I took both of my kids (7 and 10) hunting for the weekend and it has me pondering all sorts of things related to kids and hunting.

1. So there are two general ideas for getting kids into hunting. One is to take them along as soon as they show interest, make it fun and easy and enjoyable, and slowly build up to this. The other is to hold them back until they are actually ready for the activity. I have tried and mostly failed at the first method with my kids. But my grandfather implored the latter method with me. I now unconditionally love hunting. And my kids, well they like it, but I'm not sure I'm setting them up for long-term success. There's a lot of drive you can build for an activity by making it exclusive, which is what my grandfather did. I don't think I went deer hunting until I was at least 12 or 13, and didn't get to go to elk camp till either 14 or 15.

2. Sacrifice... There are only so many days we get to hunt each year (at least for those outside of the free-for-all of Montana). How much do you sacrifice your season for your kids? How much does your family sacrifice for your hunting? We only get two weeks here in WA for deer season. I spent one watching kids soccer and took the kids on the other this last weekend. I can count the # of hours of actual "hunting" I did this deer season on one hand. Now it's a 340-ish day wait.


And because no one likes a post without pics...

Here they are pretending their butt pads are computers.
View attachment 199115
As you can see, one is cold-blooded like me, the other runs hot.

And here is what they did why we tried to watch a hill side in the afternoon.
View attachment 199117

And for sh!ts and giggles, what is this giant orange horn-butt spider?
View attachment 199119
I don't see anything in the pictures that show a semblance of failure. Looks like the kids are having fun. Just keep taking them out, if they want to go. Eventually they'll either keep going or gravitate to other activities. Time goes fast, you'll eventually have the time to yourself again.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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This isn't really an answer or advice, just my thoughts.

I try to be really careful with expectations. There is a whole lot you can't predict, and we're all victims of our own experience. I know what drew me to hunting and the outdoors, but that may correlate anywhere from 0-100% with how my kids each experience it.

I have zero problem taking some days on my own to hunt hard while they are at home, doing school, etc. I have minimal other time-consuming hobbies or personal time away, so that's reasonable to me. I do it for all of our collective sanity. If I'm not going on at least the occasional adventure (hunting, peak bagging, whatever) I'm not the best version of myself. I try not to push it, and communicate with kids and wife about it. I mix those trips in with dedicated family hunts where the main goal is fun, being all together, safety, and learning about the animals. Maybe even see some.

On sports/activities, my older boy played football this year and obviously it took away some hunting opportunities for him. We were clear on that before the season and re-clarified last week in a very conversational way. I don't see that as a bad thing at all...yeah I'd have loved to get him out more but you can't do it all. He had a fun season and made some new friends. That's valuable too.

I guess to sum it up, my personal goal is not to raise serious mountain hunters. I enjoy our time out as a family and hope we can share hunting as an activity for years to come. However, I won't look at myself as a failure if none of my kids take that as their identity.
 

midwesthunter

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So I will provide a brief history how I was introduced to hunting and then I will try and provide my answers to your questions.

So I am born and raised in Indiana, where we have a plethora of game to hunt and long seasons.

I started out hunting squirrels, man this was a boring adventure as our season starts mid Aug and not a single leaf has thought about falling, making it hard to find them. Then my dad took me deer hunting with him, I was still to young to properly shoot a shotgun or muzzleloader. Now we didn't have the deer population we have now, this would have been late 80's early 90's. I remember that you had to apply for a doe tag at that time. Now you can almost buy as many as you want. Anyways, first morning of deer hunting with dad was opening day of shotgun season. We went and sat behind a small dirt pile facing a ditch. It didn't take me long to get bored and start breaking sticks or ice, and dad telling me to be quiet. Well what seemed like for ever but was probably only 45 mins after shooting light a doe had passed by and my dad didn't have a doe tag so we waited and a buck came by about 5 min later, where my dad, shot and dropped him in his tracks. I told my dad this deer hunting is easy. The next year I was able to hunt and was walked to my hunting spot and dropped off, I had many years of mistakes before I got my first deer. But I did it all on my own. I wanted nothing to do nothing except hunt and fish every min I could.

Now for your question #1:

I started my son off shooting guns at a young age then squirrel hunting later in the year where we could be mobile the whole time. My son enjoyed it so we kept at it until he was old enough to deer hunt. Which was a personal age restriction, at 8 I had him hunting thanks to newer gun laws here in IN, I had him shooting a single shot 44 mag rifle. He missed his first shot at a small buck and was upset about it, a week later he took his first doe at 11 yards. But To help pass the time he would bring his tablet to keep him occupied while in the stand waiting for a deer to show up. When he was younger I wouldn't limit how much he could be on it, I let him do what he wanted so to not get bored. As he became older and a more accomplished hunter, I started restricting his time looking at the screen, making him wait a little longer to get on it, especially around first and last light. I also started having him help run trail cameras and pick stand locations.

So this next part is kind of an answer for both questions. To help better my sons odds of seeing deer, I gave up bow hunting, and would save our woods for opening day of firearms season for him. He is 15 this year and I will still probably sit with him, on the upcoming firearm season. I would give up the chance to ever shoot another deer to be able to hunt with him for the rest of my life. The look and reaction you get to share with them when they are successful, you will never forget it. I also try and include him in as many trips out west as possible. So far he has taken two antelope, a mule deer, hunted cow elk and tagged along on another antelope hunt. I usually have a hunt each year that I do out west by myself, but I always make sure I have a trip out west that my son gets to be a part of in some way or another.

Looking back at how I was introduced to deer hunting, I wish my dad would have sat with me on some of those early hunts and helped talk me through some of my shots. My dad passed away when I was 19 and we never got to do a lot of the things we talked about doing. I am making sure I never miss an opportunity to spend time doing something with my son, but I am lucky that he enjoys hunting, maybe not as much as I do but he might get there. Were planning next years options, the good news is we have about 20 options, the bad thing is we have 20 different options.

So in closing, if I was you I would give up everyday of hunting to spend with the kids out hunting. But I might try taking them individually.

Make it fun.
 

Werty

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Bzn, mt
Im youngest of 4 boys, oldest brother could care less if he hunted, second oldest loves to trap and go on guided hunts, brother closet to me loves adventure, likes hunting. Me, I love hunting. We were all raised if you wanted to hunt you could, if didn't that was fine too. I think in the end, go hunting and make your kids part of it, but they need to show interest too.
My .02 cents.
Also, maybe you need to negotiate more time off, it sounds like its vacation issue asmuch as kids.
 

wllm

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Yes. But can you see how selfish that is? And I completely don't mean that in any negative way. I feel much the same. But my Mom has really opened my eyes to this, partly because this wasn't what they did all the time. We did our time in the cold. But they really sacrificed their time to allow us kids to pursue our passions as equal to their own.

I said that verbatim when my kids are younger. But are you really going to tell your little girl she can't play soccer when she asks? Are you not going to support her when she does well? Talk is one thing, but walking that walk has proven impossible for me.
Yeah my dad went to every single ballet recital and coached both my sister and my's soccer teams. He was pretty adamant against us playing a summer sport as that was hiking/camping season. I think the "pursue our passions as equal to their own" part is key.

Did my mom and dad support me in whatever I wanted to do? Unequivocally yes, was I the center of the universe... absolutely not. Did I have to do things I wasn't interested in at the time, yes.

I feel pitty for people whose parents just catered to their every desire. How are you supposed to build a relationship with a spouse with that kinda upbringing? I feel like my upbringing was very much 'you are a member of this family' you get a 1/4 share of the families energy and are expected to support others when it's their turn.

My mom and dad did toned down trips with us, and took time to do some agro one's without us to keep sane.

All that being said, from all your past posts it seems like you're doing it right.
 
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EYJONAS!

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My kids are also 7 and 10, I think the biggest fail I've seen or heard of is just over doing it or pushing them to a point of making it uncomfortable for them. If they get to a point of this sucks...... game over.

My kids have gone with a ton over the years, some days are long some days are short. Some days you wonder wtf is actually going on. Some days they are just not into it, some days they never wanna go back home.

There's been times where we are spring bear hunting and they watch a movie while waiting, there's been times they do a short hike. Sometimes we sit on a ridge and talk and they build little stick houses. 🤷‍♂️

I mirror @brockel in keeping it fun for them, we've probably got the biggest rock collection on the block and the last time we went out antelope hunting they picked up more cow femurs and pelvic bones than I cared to bring out but, it actually worked out good for their Halloween graveyard they setup out in our front yard.

Sneaking up on a group of antelope my son was more interested in picking up the "diamonds and crystals" off the ground than stocking an antelope buck. Which in the moment I wanted him to pay attention but afterwards. Meh oh well.

Now we are into sports which caused us to miss some weekends, but it's what they want to do and I'm a firm believer if they're gonna start something they're finishing it out. There will be plenty of time to get into the field. Whether it's looking for bears or building blinds and killing ducks. 20211015_183157.jpg

Then the find a d5 cat in the middle of BFE and think that's cool as shit and a jungle gym. 🤷‍♂️

I think one of the biggest deals one has to remember is that with kids or really any first time hunter is that. You have years of knowledge and experience ahead of them so don't forget that. Things that are almost second nature to you don't register with them, yet. It will one day and the next thing you'll know, they'll be passing their knowledge onto the next generation as well.
 

ZMT588

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I’m in the same boat as @wllm1313. They’re going to tag along with me cause I said so. I don’t ever take them on anything crazy. Antelope hunts. And a few 1/2 mile walks from the car to look for Deer. My daughter (7) could probably care less when I tell her we’re going hunting as a family. But I’ve taken her out a few times 1 on 1 and she’s showed some interest. It’s just fun trying to be sneaky with deer. I took her turkey hunting in a blind once. One of my favorite hunts I’ve ever had. No turkeys were seen or heard that day but we had a blast being goofballs in the blind. She’s been on a stalk with me on a deer once. Unsuccessful. But she had fun. She told mom all about it before I even walked in the door. My son (3) has been on a few “hunts”. Mostly driving around checking places out. I take him out when it’s realistic.

My advice. Make it fun. Not every successful hunt ends in a harvest. Success can be measured in experience not just inches.
 

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EYJONAS!

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One thing I've doing with my 10 y.o. instead of the hunters apprenticeship program in MT.

We've been practicing in the field fire arm safety and run stocks like it's a real life experience for her as she is the shooter.

I am not allowing any of my kids to hunt until they complete the real hunters education portion and they are 12 years old. That's just my belief, I don't think many 10 y.o. kids have the mental capacity and know how (without a hunters Ed certification) to really know what is going on and how to process it.

So, I take a unloaded 22mag, with no bolt in it. She carries it practices firearm safety by getting it in and out of the vehicle, checking it and carrying it properly. I also allow her to sneak in and get setup. There's no live ammunition or anything, it's just a real world practice opportunity.

I feel like her level of interest has grown tremendously because she's involved more...
 

mulecreek

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Rock Springs, WY
Two sons, 15 and 14. Started them both young. One at a time on hunts. Two kids is too much to look after without it turning into a total shit show. Made early hunts fun, high success potential hunts (blue grouse, rabbits, turkey, wyo pronghorn, whitey, MD). Slowly increasing difficulty and decreasing odds of success (Wyo Gen elk, archery, MT MD).

Oldest one loves it. Cant get enough of it. Will go anywhere and is fine not punching a tag. We are on day 7 of his Wyo LQ deer tag. He has passed up dozens of bucks. Wants to hike and glass canyons and draws all day. He is kicking my old butt. Kind of a milestone moment for us this past friday. He glassed up a coyote cruising a canyon around midday. Asked if he could go after it. Told him yes but I was going to stay put. He made a great stalk, shot, retrieval and skinning job all on his own with me watching through the glass. His first hunt where I wasn't by his side the whole time.

Youngest, likes it but doesn't love it. Slept entire day in the back seat of pickup while the rest of us hunted pronghorn. Will go but it better not be too cold, hot, dry, wet, far, steep or boring. At this point I would be surprised if he ever hunted a day where I didn't take him. Likes the drives and the stay in camp, particularly if camp is a motel with a pool, more than anything.

Both introduced the same way but very different outcomes. No right or wrong.

As far as sacrificing my own hunting. Hell yes. Whether its their tags or other activities, I don't get much time in a typical year to hunt for myself. Got a nice elk hunt in the Selway for myself this year but I am going to miss pretty much all of Gen rifle season here in Wyo due to their hunts. Don't even get me started about their hockey season eating into my time. But no one forced me to have them so I take this as the price of admission. I don't really miss the hunts for myself that much, hunting with them is really pretty cool. Watching the older boy get better and better at this each year is hard to beat. And learning to enjoy the easier more comfortable hunts with the younger boy gets more attractive the older I get.
 

KB_

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Bozemen, Montana
I desperately want to take my son(9 years old) with me. But he is autistic, and I just don't know if that will ever happen. Every so often I try to introduce him to some things, Got him a Red Ryder BB gun. He shot it once and has since lost interest. It bums me out and I'm not to sure what to do about it.

My problem is im more scared of taking an autistic kid out hunting and expecting things to go well.

I think that if you can take them, do it. For as long as they show interest. But it is hard to not be selfish and want to go alone and get the work done, we are only humans and none of us are perfect. I share this conundrum with you 100%, I have resorted to fishing as of recently, but on a personal note I think i'm screwing that up too. I'm not doing that good of a job making it fun for him. It seems the harder I try to make it fun, I'm having the opposite affect.

I keep trying to remind myself that the (Forced) fun days I experienced in the Military were not fun and I'm worried that's exactly what I'm doing to my son.

Wish I had advice for you, But frankly I'm struggling with this too.
 
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