There are a number of valuable reasons to get your children involved with your hunting trips. It helps them adapt to difficult situations, learn gun safety and management, create a steward for the environment and encourage exercise and fitness. However, you don’t want to trick your child into going hunting with you or to make them suffer through a miserable situation if they are clearly uncomfortable. This will only lead to them shying away from the thought of joining you next time. As a parent, it may be a struggle to get your child interested or to be a voluntary active participant, but there are ways and reasons to make hunting appealing to them at a young age.
Creating Advocates for the Environment
You can get your child started by getting them outdoors as much as possible. At first, don’t make it about hunting at all — just focus on getting your child feeling comfortable in the outdoors. Encourage them to explore and get dirty while roaming the woods with you while you scout for the upcoming season. The more connected that your children can feel with the natural environment, the more likely they will be receptive to the environmental ethics that come with hunting. By taking your children out on their first hunt, they are entering into communion with nature on another level than they ever have before. To learn more about the importance of children spending time in nature, explore Richard Louv’s book, “Lost Child in the Woods.” Make sure that they are ready to take that next step to avoid having pushback from them later on.
Making a Game of It
Try offering an airsoft gun to your child to encourage them to use it for target practice. It will allow your child to become more familiar with holding a gun and experiencing the thrill and anxiety that come with pulling the trigger. Set up fun targets in a safe area to create a game out of target practice for them. While they may see this target practice time as a fun time, it is also a valuable learning experience. This is also a handy opportunity to teach them about gun safety and the do’s and don’ts of handling a firearm. Make sure they know that, although they are using an airsoft gun, it should still be treated as a weapon and a potentially dangerous firearm. Once they build their confidence up with an airsoft gun, they may be chomping at the bit to join you on your next big game hunt.
Power in Knowledge
Some children don’t fully grasp why you hunt in the first place. They may assume that it is just a means for providing food for the family or that you do it for quality time with friends in the woods. While both may be true, teaching your children about the ecological cycle and the food web may enable them to better understand why you hunt in the first place. When a child can feel like an active participant in a larger picture, they will typically get on board. Let your child know why there are only so may tags issued for certain animals each year and how fish and game manages the delicate balance that exists in our forests. If it’s the act of shooting an animal that is preventing them from pursuing hunting, they may find it interesting to know that they are helping to keep the balance that we strive to keep in our ecosystem. You never know, it could persuade them to pursue a career as a game warden when they grow up.