Including our children in outdoor activities at an early age will set them up for a lifetime full of great adventures. Recently I sat down with my three nieces (ages 5, 7, 9) and we talked about their first few hunts, focusing on the things we did and some things we could have done differently to make each trip the best it could be.
Hunter Safety: Prior to your hunt make sure the child you are taking understands gun/bow safety. My Dad always made me aware of how dangerous these items were but he also showed me that they are important tools for any outdoorsman.
Gear and Apparel: Make sure they have the proper gear and apparel. You don’t need to break the bank for top of the line clothing in the early stages since they are still growing and will probably change sizes yearly. You do want them to be as comfortable as possible, if they are too cold or wet it could ruin everyone’s day.
Prepare for possible scenarios: Take a few minutes to sit down with them and let them know what to expect and discuss any fears or hesitations they may have. If you are hunting deer or ducks tell them how they usually come in or what to expect when the game approaches. Of course you can’t possibly know what will happen but you can help them understand the possible outcomes.
Don’t expect too much: Little kids aren’t going to sit perfectly still, so be patient. Let them wiggle a little if they need to! You want them to have fun and want to go back out with you. It’s not all about the harvest it’s about the moments in the field, the memories you are creating. Be prepared to cut the day short and remember it is about them, not about you.
Take Snacks: My youngest niece told me this was VERY important. It never fails the moment we get settled into the blind they are all hungry! Just be prepared and take a few snacks in your pack.
Potty Breaks: If you are hunting a blind or a stand have a potty plan. For us with three little girls in the duck blind we have a planned route to get them in and out of the blind for potty breaks. Sounds silly but trust me it will be helpful to plan ahead.
Processing: Be prepared to explain how the meat processing will go in the event of a harvest. It will be helpful to tell them all the benefits that you will receive from the wild game.
Have Fun: Enjoy this time with the kids! Spending time in the outdoors and making it fun for them will encourage them to try more outdoor activities and appreciate the nature around them.