Get those youth hunting with these tips
My fondest memories as a child are of those first hunts with my father. My fondest hunts as an adult are the hunts with my son and now grandson. Starting a youth into the hunting sports simply changes the direction of one’s life.
Clean, wholesome fun and spening hours in the outdoors is a wonderful thing. We can pass our great hobby onto the younger generation with these four tips.
Pick your game wisely
First-time hunters like lots of action and little waiting time. Today’s youth expect instant gratifications. So picking the right game for that first hunt is critical to ensure they enjoy the sport as much as we do.
Game animals with large populations are the key here. Many of us got our start in hunting by pursuing squirrels. Most properties have an abundance of these targets. So getting youth on some tree rats should bring some easy action. Rabbits are also high in numbers and offer pretty high success rates. They are another great starter for youth.
First-time wing shooters usually start out with mourning doves on plated fields, but I would like to recommend crow hunting. Crows respond well to calling, and present a much larger, slower target. Lack of pressure is another bonus for crow hunting as we introduce youth to wing shooting.
I took my son on a handful of crow hunts in the past year. We had shots on most stands.
For big game, hogs are a great starter. These animals are plentiful. And because of their size, they give youth some practice on larger animals. And that gets them ready to hunt deer.
Hunt from a blind
I love to use a blind for taking youth hunting for many reasons. The most important reason is that it conceals movement. Remember how difficult it was as a youth to remain still and ready for an animal? A blind allows the youth hunter to get away with movements at the wrong time by concealing most of the hunters from the view of the game.
I started out with ladder stands. But my success jumped when I moved to strategically placed ground blinds that didn’t require climbing in the dark.
Today’s youth bring their phones along on hunts, and that’s okay. Instead of separating them from their phones, I allow them to entertain themselves while we wait on game. The last thing you want is for them to wish they were at home playing on their phones.
Another favorite pastime of youths is that power nap. If they want a nap, let them sleep while you watch for game. Simply wake them up when you see game. The blind allows them to get into position for a shot, undetected by their quarry.
Blinds are best used for hunting deer, turkey, and hogs.
Another great tip is choosing the right gear. It is often easier to just allow youth hunters to use adult gear. But you need to make some considerations. Caliber choice can make or break that first hunt. I always allow the youth to shoot a weapon before we hunt if I can. I would really prefer they at least take a shot at the range.
You can remove a youth’s fear of recoil in one simple instructional shooting session. And this can mean all the difference in their first hunting experience. Choose that caliber wisely. A 20-gauge shotgun or a .22 rifle are great choices to ease a youth into expecting recoil. It is easy to forget our first hunts, and any fears we may have had about recoil. So please take this into consideration when hunting with youth.
Tripods have really helped me in creating successful hunts for youth. I can set up a tripod quickly in my blind and have the weapon connected to the tripod at the ready. I release the tripod ball head as the youth hunter slides up to the weapon. Then they can easily move the crosshairs into place without holding the weight of the weapon.
When we expect youth hunters to wait patiently for game to arrive, we must make sure they are comfortable. The right clothing choice, along with a comfortable chair, makes the difference in youth enjoying a hunt or wondering when they are going home. You will raise your success rate, and keep them interested in coming back, if you take the time to make them comfortable enough to wait long periods of time.
As adults, we sometimes want bigger game and higher numbers in our harvest stack to make memories. But for youth, sometimes it is a single hunt they will remember forever. My greatest enjoyment is the conversations on that hour drive home after a successful hunt. But youth’s expectations are much different than ours. You’ll find that out by talking to your youth hunters.
Asking youths about their favorite hunts tells us what they love about the sport. That helps us try to bring them more of what they enjoy. It usually isn’t the biggest buck or boar they talk about. It’s often about that first animal that got their heart racing. That’s the feeling we chase every time we go out. And that’s the feeling that will hook them for life.
Take a youth hunting this year, and I guarantee you will get a different outlook on your hunting, and in a great way.
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