What’s Going on With Young Hunters?
Who doesn’t love hunting? The preparation, the chase, the reward when you finally put it all together. It’s a great pastime that has brought together millions of people and created a community that cares about and cares for wildlife. But there is a problem with what should be the next generation of young hunters. Interest is down and to preserve the lifestyle that so many of us love. We need to get more young people involved.
Timing is everything.
Like most things in life, timing plays a major role in how accepting a young person would be about becoming a hunter. Suppose you plan to introduce your kid, nephew, cousin, WHOEVER into hunting. Please make sure that is on their own accord. Like any hobby, if a child is forced into the situation, they may not take to it as naturally as if they were the ones who initiated the interest.
This is why if they approach you first about their interest to hunt, the chances of them taking to it are higher. Of course, every child is different and will take to things at different paces. Just be mindful of their interest level or lack thereof.
Things To Consider Before A First Hunt
One of the best ways to get a young person involved in hunting is simply taking them with you on one of your hunts. Taking your kid is not like taking your buddies hunting; there are a few things to consider.
- Attention Span: While we might think some of the best parts about hunting are the solitude and quiet that comes with a hunt. The long waits in silence could be what turns them off completely to a younger person. If you know your youngster has a short attention span, it might be best to wait a couple more years.
- Sensitivity: Taking the life of an animal for the first time can be a pretty serious moment in someone’s life. Make sure they are ready for what happens when you really hunt. If you are not sure how they will react, taking them out to shed hunt or scout would be a good way to get them outside and moving. The more interest they show in just being outside around animals, the better they might take to the actual act of hunting.
- Physical capabilities: Try not to forget the first time you had to trek into the woods before dawn with 20 plus pounds on your back. It’s all in a day’s work now, but there is a serious level of stamina needed for a lot of hunts to the unconditioned. If you are taking it slow, including breaks, a young person should be fine. Just don’t go too overboard on them the first few times out.
- Do they already like hunting: The more interest someone shows about hunting before their first hunt makes all the difference. If you are the one making the push for them to get into hunting, don’t push it too hard. Again, the more they are the ones getting themselves involved, the better. Young hunters will vary in interest level initially; keep that in mind.
- Access: For someone’s first hunt would you really want take the risk of the added pressure from public ground? Secure a solid hunting lease for your first time out. Raising the chances of you having the best hunt possible. Companies like ours do a great job of giving you a variety of leases to choose from!
Take it Easy on Young Hunters!
Now that they have shown some basic interest in going hunting, it’s time to make their first experience great!
Picking the right first hunt is critical. A long and intense hunt with a low chance of success is probably NOT the best option for a first-time/young hunter. Taking them along with you on an Elk hunt into the mountains could very quickly turn someone off of hunting with the wrong terrain.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing them for their first hunt!
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Besides just being proper hunting etiquette to be proficient in shooting before you take a shot at an animal, it will also give them a sense of confidence. No matter what hunting style you are doing, make sure they know what they are doing! A few trips to the range or into a target in the backyard can go a long way in the field.
- Day Trip: the first time you get them outside does not need to include a weapon in their hand. Taking them out to animal watch or shed hunt could bring insight into how interested they really are in the outdoors. Shed hunting is also a great way to get them comfortable around dead animals.
Make the Hunt Enjoyable
Choosing the right hunt is just as important as the interest they’ve shown or the preparation they have done. Here are some tips on making the hunt as youth/newbie friendly as you can!
- Their own Hunt: Remember, the first time you take a young hunter out can set the tone for their hunting career. Don’t take them on a hunt where you are specifically trying to harvest an animal. The added pressure and possibility of failure can make the stress of the hunt too much for a new guy. It should be a hunt dedicated to them, with no expectations other than having fun and enjoying being out in nature! Of course, if you bring something home, that’s even better for morale.
- Get Moving: Pick a hunt with some level of action in it. Sitting in a deer stand for 8 hours to come home empty-handed is no one’s perfect day. Especially if it’s your first day out. Things like ducks, squirrels, and other small game have much more movement involved. If you have a great buck spot with a lot of deer walking by, that could work too. Young hunters will at least want to see some wildlife their first time out!
- Weather: I know you can’t necessarily control the weather on a hunt, but you could stay home if it’s not ideal. Normally a hunter would never let a little rain or small cold front deter them from their planned hunt. But if you are using this as a way to sell someone on the excitement of hunting. Waiting for the best day could make all of the difference.
- Give them the control: I may sound like a broken record, but this hunt is for THEM. If they decide at the last second, they don’t want to be the one to take the animal’s life. That’s OKAY! You still got them out there and exposed them to what it’s all about! If they are ready to take the shot, but harvesting is too much for a young person, just do it yourself. Everyone moves at their own pace. Rushing them into something they are not fully comfortable doing will not help them get into it.
Hunting at its core will always stay the same. It’s a game of man vs. wild, with a set winner and loser at the end. It’s something millions of people have loved and will spend their whole lives loving it. But times have changed. The next generation simply does not have the same knowledge of hunting as the ones before them.
When you get the chance to introduce the uninitiated to the amazing world of hunting, just take your time! It’s not for everyone, but anybody can learn to appreciate what hunting really is. Getting young hunters involved is great for them and the future of hunting!
If you would like additional information on prepping the young hunters of tomorrow, here is the NRA’s website on how to do so!