Few things are as special as watching a child develop a passion for hunting and the outdoors. We preach about the need to introduce kids to the sport all the time, and we know how important hunter retention is to the hunting heritage. But what we often overlook is why some kids simply don’t want to get up and go to the woods. So it’s in our best interest to take a closer look at some of the hunting hurdles that keep our kids from wanting to go back to the woods. Here’s a look at 5 reasons some kids avoid hunting.
Do your kids jump at the chance to go hunting, or avoid it?
Waking Up Early
Waking up super early in the morning can cause most any child to utter the words, “I hate hunting!” Don’t take it personally. They likely have no idea what they’re saying as they wipe the sleep from their eyes and duck back under the covers. Let’s face it – getting up early can be tough on hunters of any age. It’s just more evident with our kids. What’s the fix? Be sure your child gets to bed early the night before. Late nights and early wake-up calls can be brutal on kids. Make sure they get ample rest before the hunt. And of course, one of the best solutions is to save the afternoon hunts for the kiddos. No early wake up required! Problem solved.
Waking up early in the morning can be tough, especially on kids.
Short attention spans can often be a deal-breaker when it comes to keeping kids in the woods for the hunt. Adults tend to struggle with this one, wondering why their child can’t hack it for long sits or stands. But when we think about how our kids are constantly bombarded by content through TV, music, smartphones and more, we begin to understand how difficult it is on kids these days to sit still without anything in their hands or face for entertainment. What’s the fix? Be sure to have plenty of snacks. Good snacks and drinks help pass the time and keep your child’s mind off of being bored. Tell stories. Share stories of your favorite hunts from the past and have them tell the story of how they think their hunt will unfold. I also use my iPhone to show photos and memories from past hunts as well as show shot placement scenarios on various deer images. The age of your child will determine what it will take to keep them going. Just remember to keep it fun: We’ve got to learn to keep the hunt fun, even when things get slow!
Too Hot or Too Cold
The weather can make or break a hunt for a child in a hurry. Being too hot, or cold, can make any child want to head back to the house. And while there’s not a lot you can do about the heat in the early season, there’s no excuse for your child being cold while hunting. What’s the fix? Hunt from a ground blind. Ground blinds block the wind and make for a much more comfortable hunt. You can also carry a small heater to warm things up and keep your child’s feet toasty warm. Hand and body warmers can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to hunting with kids. Do what it takes to keep your child warm during the hunt. When they’re cold and miserable, the hunt is over.
Some kids hate the cold, others love it. Don’t let the weather be a reason your child avoids hunting. Keep them warm and dry.
I’ve seen a number of kids avoid hunting simply because they had grown gun-shy of the firearm they were hunting with. The recoil they experience from a gun can be enough to make them dodge the opportunity to ever go back to the woods. Parents are often to blame for putting too much gun in their child’s hands. Don’t make this mistake. What’s the fix? Less can be more when it comes to the gun your child needs when getting started. Find the gun with ample knockdown power without the extra punch on your child’s shoulder. Don’t let some power trip, or your love of the big guns, be a hurdle for keeping your child from the love of the hunt.
Don’t be guilty of giving your child too much gun for the hunt. Young kids just starting out can quickly become gun-shy and avoid the opportunity to hunt altogether.
Lack of Opportunity
Kids need to experience success. That doesn’t mean they have to kill a deer every time they hit the woods. That’s not realistic. But they need to have the opportunity to see deer, encounter wildlife and experience the beauty of the hunt. What’s the fix? They need to get the greenlight as quickly as possible to pull the trigger when the opportunity presents itself. Don’t be guilty of telling your child, “He’s not big enough.” Kids that aren’t given the opportunity to pull the trigger are the same kids that will soon be avoiding the opportunity to hunt.”
Give your child the opportunity to be successful early in their hunting career. They’re more interested in success than they are size and scores.
The greatest memories you’ll ever create are the ones spent hunting with a child.
Don’t blow the opportunity by making the mistakes mentioned above. Eliminate the hunting hurdles from their experience and you’ll have kids that jump at the chance to go hunting with you rather than avoiding it this season.