first hunt with kids

Ever since she was born, you’ve been thinking about taking your little girl on her first hunt. The first time she asked “Can I go hunting with you?” you probably felt a giant lump of pride in your throat. She’s finally old enough to shoot and you can hardly wait to take her with you, but you want to make sure she likes it (so she’ll go again). Here are some tips to get started on the right foot.

Generate Excitement

Anticipation is half the fun! Talk about the hunt with your child before you go so that she’ll be excited to go and to learn what she needs to know. Tell her about your first hunt and what your parents taught you. Tell her stories about hunts you’ve really enjoyed, and don’t be afraid to tell funny stories about hunts that weren’t quite perfect, too.

Prepare Together

Before you plan a hunt, make sure that your child has spent some time shooting and learning to use a shotgun. Time at the shooting range can help improve the chances that hunting won’t frustrate your child and reinforces important safety lessons about guns. Involve your child in the preparation by letting her help get gear together and to pack the car. Let her pick out some snacks to take with you – this is a great chance to explain why noisy packaging is a bad idea and gets kids thinking about the process of hunting.

Outfit and Gear Up Properly

It’s not a great idea to put your child in hand-me-down hunting clothes – they can be worn or may not fit well enough for the child to move well. Likewise it’s not wise to give them brand new gear. Kids love new stuff, so go shopping in late summer, just before the season, and let them wear their gear when they play outside. Get a shotgun specifically intended for a child – it can be frustrating for a child to try to navigate an adult weapon. You also want to pay attention to tiny little fingers and toes. Make sure you include handwarmers and good mitts to help keep fingers warm and nimble.

first hunt with kids tips

Don’t Forget Hungry Tummies

Adult hunters will often avoid taking food on a hunt, but kids need food for energy and to keep them from getting grumpy and cranky. Feed your child well before the hunt, and bring some good snacks that will satisfy them. Avoid the candy and bring something substantial like peanut butter sandwiches, or even a thermos of hot soup. Warm soup in the tummy on a cold morning can be a reason all by itself to enjoy hunting.

Make the Hunt About the Child

The first time you hunt with your child, focus your attention on helping her to succeed and to have a good time. Young hunters need a lot of attention – instruction on the use of firearms, tips on how to move silently and track birds, how to prepare for a shot, and how to identify wildlife. This hunt isn’t about success in the field, it’s about making sure your child has a good time and wants to go hunting again, so spend your time helping them to hunt – you’ll have a chance to hunt just for you at another time.

Hunt Like a Kid

It may be frustrating for a seasoned hunter to lead a child on her first hunt – she’s bound to ask a lot of questions, which will make it hard to be quiet. She also has a shorter attention span than you do, so take little breaks to keep her interested. Point out the beauty of the forest, the way the light hits the trees. Spend some time practicing bird calls. Use her curiosity and impatience to teach her all about nature and she’ll want to come back again and again.

Let Her Tell the Story

We all know part of the fun is telling the hunting story to your friends! Let your child tell family and friends about the hunt rather than telling the story for her. This first hunt will be a memory she will always cherish, even if she doesn’t become a seasoned hunter, so let her have all the glory.

And above all, HAVE FUN! You’ve been waiting a long time to enjoy this moment, so savor it and make sure both of you focus on the most important part of the hunt – spending time together.

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Winterhaven Game Farm & Preserve • 500 Venable Rd, Palmyra • Virginia 22963