If your family comes from a long lineage of hunters, you may have considered taking your children on a family hunting trip. Every hunter should understand the importance of safety, especially when kids are tagging along. Here are some tips that will make family hunting trips safer and more enjoyable, so you can get the whole family involved with the activity.
Emphasize weapon safety early on
It's not enough to keep your weapons out of sight of young hunters, especially if you plan on letting them use similar weapons to hunt. Responsible gun owners who are also hunters should lock their guns away in gun safes at home, but they need to take extra precautions to keep young, curious hunters safe from the guns kept at home. Teach your children to assume every gun is a loaded one, and make sure that they understand the consequences of pulling a trigger to find out if a gun is loaded.
Many states do not have hard and fast rules about the age at which a child can use a long gun, or hunting rifle, but it's a good idea to check your state's laws before introducing your child to any such weapon. Before you let your child learn to shoot, be sure they are mature enough to follow instructions, and never leave your child or young teen alone with a gun.
Invest in lots of shooting time at a local gun range, and check to see if there are any young hunter safety courses offered nearby.
Don't have unreal expectations
You may have envisioned a weekend hunting trip that involves watching your child bag their first turkey or deer, but instead you spend the whole time shushing noisy kids and dealing with whining and complaints. Children aren't necessarily the most patient hunters, and they will likely have a lot of questions, especially if they are new to hunting.
Focus on the experience and sharing your knowledge with your young hunters, rather than the goal of catching your quarry. By being patient with your kids, you'll help them develop a love of the sport and a respect for the act of hunting that can help keep them safe as they grow in the sport.
Consider the environment and the hunters
While "roughing it" in cold, wet woodland areas may be your idea of a fun hunt, don't keep the kids out too long in it, especially if it's their first hunt. Miserable conditions can put your child off of hunting altogether, so be sure to gauge just how long your little hunter will tolerate the environment. Dress them appropriately for the conditions, and you might just get to stay outdoors a little longer, too. Click here for more information on finding the right supplies for you and your young hunters.
When hunting with kids, it's important to remember that they aren't made like adults. They will get hungry, thirsty, and "need to go potty" more often than you, so keep this in mind when packing up your hunting supplies. Be sure to bring along a snack and a drink, or you could end up with a cranky kid who just wants to go home. Remember that the most important thing about hunting with your kids is the experience, so try to make it a positive one that they'll remember fondly.
Responsible hunting can be more than just a sport. It can be a way for families to bond over the shared experience of hunting for food, and it can be an important way for families to get involved in conservation. It teaches children an important lesson about respecting life and death, and can help them learn about compassion. Take the time to teach your children about hunting and gun safety, and remember to be patient with them while they are learning. You'll both have a happier, safer experience that you'll want to enjoy time and again.