4 Tips to Make Hunting With Kids a Success
Kevin Wilkey | KUIU Marketing Development Director
After years of hunting and filling your own tags, now it’s your turn to inspire the next generation of hunters. While some kids may beg you to go hunting every chance they get, others may need some coaxing. Regardless of where your youth hunter’s interest lies, here are some tips, techniques, and gear highlights to help make their first hunting experience a success.
1. TAKE THEM SCOUTING
The best practice session for hunting is scouting. It’s the perfect time to gauge your kid’s interest and ease them into what an actual hunting trip will be like. It’s an opportunity to teach them the fundamentals of hunting, glassing, hiking, and sneaking, without the added stress of filling a tag.
Dragging your kids out for the first time on opening morning and expecting them to know how to manage is a recipe for disappointment. Scouting is fun, it extends your season and it sets the hook for having a hunting buddy for life. It will also give you an idea how hard they will want to hunt when it’s game day.
2. POINT OUT GAME USING CLEAR PLASTIC SHEET AND MARKER
A challenge all hunters face is having game pointed out to them or pointing out game to another hunter. It usually goes something like this-
“See the rocky outcropping on the top of the ridge? Go down from there about fifty yards and you’ll see a downed log that’s shaped like a backwards L. From there, go straight right until you see the grey rock with the white stripe. Below the rock thirty yards, the buck is feeding in the scrubby pines. Got it?”
After the confusing directions, they’re often left frantically looking through their optics—especially if they’re a new hunter.
KUIU’s Kevin Wilkey has a technique he’s been using for years to help his kids while deer hunting-
“I use a clear overhead projector sheet and a dry erase marker. Once I have something spotted, I’ll hold the sheet in front of me and trace the ridgeline and notable landmarks that are identifiable with the naked eye. I’ll circle or X the animal’s location and pass the sheet to my fellow hunter…
“They simply hold the sheet up to the horizon, line up the landmarks and see exactly where I’m pointing. Execute this method quietly, without saying a word. When my kids spot an animal on their own, I’ll have them use the same method to show me—reconfirming the teamwork involved in glassing and hunting.”commented Wilkey.
Any clear film will work, though a stiff and rigid sheet is easier to draw on and won’t flap in the wind.
3. DON'T OVERDO IT
A mistake a lot of hunters make is pushing their kids too hard. Don’t let the drive for success outweigh your youth hunter’s abilities. Every kid is different and have their own limits; empower them with some decision making on how hard they want to hunt. Don’t be afraid to challenge them but be realistic on what they can do.
You may end up hunting closer to the roads and spending more time in camp than what you normally would. Between morning and evening hunts, you may consider other activities to pass the day like looking for arrowheads, hunting small game, target practice or playing games.
Plan and let them know beforehand your expectations of the hunt—like how far they’ll need to hike, how quiet they’ll need to be, and how long you may have to sit and wait—all which may seem boring to a new hunter. You may end up doing more entertaining than actual hunting, so manage the expectations to prevent lost tempers.
4. A TIME TO TEACH
Chances are you’ll encounter plenty of downtime while hunting, especially if you’re hunting in a blind or hiked in remote. Use this time as an opportunity to teach your youth about safety, conservation, food-cycle, self-reliance, wildlife and why we hunt. The mountains and field are the perfect place to learn the lessons of life, without everyday distractions.
Ask any hunter that started out as a youth about their earliest hunting memories and it likely involves sneaking around camp with a BB gun, youth bow, or wrist rocket. By letting them venture off a safe distance from camp, they’ll apply what you’ve taught them and learn skills on their own.
Today’s youth have more distractions than the generations prior. Getting your youth involved in hunting not only ensures the future of the sport, they’ll make memories and learn real skills that don’t involve looking at a screen.
Big game hunting is often hit and miss. Remember to make it fun, don’t push them too hard, and get them the right gear. Teach them that a successful hunt doesn’t always involve notching a tag.
Share with us your favorite hunting moments with a young hunter by tagging #KUIUNation.