Teach ’em Young

By Sereena Thompson

Growing up in a hunting family I have always been involved with all aspects of hunting and the great outdoors. I was taught at a young age where my food comes from and how to harvest it. But even more importantly I was taught ethical hunting. I believe that it’s our job, as parents and sportsmen, to pass on the hunting heritage to our future generations. Passing on the hunting heritage is important because our kids are the future!

Hunting not only provides the most healthiest and organic meat for our families, but it also teaches many valuable life lessons. Life lessons that seem to be getting lost in the world today.

Hunting teaches kids respect, patience, ethics, responsibility, confidence and hard work. But for them to be successful in all of these aspects of hunting they need us as teachers. As a mom, hunter’s education instructor, USA archery Level 2 instructor and outdoor enthusiast there is no greater reward than introducing youth to the outdoors or helping them hone in on their skills.

My kids love the hunting lifestyle and it is so awesome to see them just as excited about it as my husband and I. At the young ages of four and five, they already know where their food comes from and I am confident that if the situation arose, Wyatt (my five year old), could already harvest his own food and build a survival fire. We never know what might come and knowing that the kids we help can efficiently provide for themselves is so important and one of the greatest rewards!

Here are my top five mistakes that I think adults make when introducing kids into hunting:

1. Teaching them it’s okay to be unethical. Kids are like little sponges. They absorb everything. Teaching them at a young age unethical ways of hunting is detrimental to them as well as our hunting community.

2. Taking them on long hunts with unideal weather conditions. Unlike some adults, kids can’t “grind” it out on long hunts, especially when it’s slow or in bad weather conditions. Try taking them on shorter and fun hunts. It’s not all about killing, it’s about the positive and fun experiences.

3. Having too high of expectations. Remember kids are young. They don’t have the experience that us adults do. They WILL make mistakes, but that’s okay because this is how they learn. So make sure to give positive feedback and help them learn from their mistakes.

4. Pushing them too hard. Pushing kids too hard on one of their first hunts is setting them up for failure. It’s important to take them on hunts where THEY can have fun.

5. Being unprepared. Taking kids hunting under prepared with clothing, gear and food is a disaster waiting to happen. Kids get hungry, thirsty and cold much faster than adults do.

If I have any advice for those who want to take a child out hunting it would be to, “Be patient!” They might be loud and you might not see a single thing, but that’s okay! It’s all about making it fun for the kids and letting them experience the great outdoors! Getting frustrated with them will only discourage them from living this amazing lifestyle. Remember, we are growing our future and introducing them to responsible and ethical hunting will only help them grow into our future generations of conservationists!

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