Is My Child Ready to Learn How to Hunt?
Taking your son or daughter on their first hunting trip is a momentous milestone, to be sure. But, it’s important to not let your excitement (or your child’s) overshadow a few considerations you should ponder before you go on your trip. You know your child better than anyone, so consider the following before packing your equipment.
Can my child handle the physical demands of a hunting trip?
Will you be waking up at early hours? Trekking for several miles? Carrying lots of equipment? Consider what will happen if you’re out quite far and have to make it back to camp with a sulking little one — or worse yet, if you have to carry them back in addition to your gear.
Why not try a low stakes hike first, and have your child carry their own lunch and extra jacket in a backpack? See how far you can get before tiredness sets in, and plan your hunting trip accordingly.
Is my child ready to use a weapon?
Whether you are hunting with a rifle, a bow, or a spear, this is a very important consideration. Of course, there is the safety concern. Is your child responsible enough to learn how to use a weapon? Do they understand the seriousness of what they are being trusted with, even with supervision? As a parent, only you can make that call.
The other thing to consider is if, physically, your child can hold up the weapon and has enough muscle to use the weapon for long periods. Not only that, but can your child handle a recoil from a firing weapon? All of these factors need to be seriously considered.
Does my child have enough emotional maturity to hunt?
Perhaps a less-considered aspect is the emotional toll that hunting could have on your child. Taking an animal’s life is not easy for many adults, let alone young kids.
There is an important lesson your child can learn from hunting for food as well as field dressing the animal. It’s important that your child sees the whole process, so that they understand the full implications of hunting from start to finish. But, is that something your child is ready for?
Are you prepared for the hunting trip to not go well?
Last but not least, as a parent you may have to check your expectations about how successful your hunting trip will go with your child. While the objectives of a hunting trip are clear to adults who understand the concept of delayed gratification, for your kids this might not seem as apparent or intuitive.
Whining or temper tantrums are a possibility due to boredom or frustration with having to stay quiet for long periods of time. Can your child hold it together for the duration of the trip?
If your child’s first experience with hunting is that it’s boring, it might create a negative association with the hobby. Just the same, if the child’s reaction on the trip will mean a fruitless labor for you, are you going to resent the experience? Will you have a negative association with hunting with your kids, when it could have been a positive experience had you waited until the right time?
Something to factor in is if there is a benefit from taking your child hunting in the near future or waiting a little longer before you take that step. Waiting for the right time could mean a better experience with family hunting trips, for both you and your child.