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A child’s first hunting trip is a transformative time in their lives. They either discover their love of the hunt or figure out that it’s not really for them. The minimum age requirements vary from state to state, so local regulations may provide a good starting point. From there, it’s up to the parents’ discretion, which is what often leads to debate. In this article, though, we’ll go over how to determine when to take your kid hunting for the first time, as well as how to slowly introduce them to the sport.
Consider Their Maturity Level
Since there isn’t one age over another that is the definitive starting point for your kid to begin hunting, we’d recommend that you base it off their overall maturity level. This includes their mental, emotional, and even physical development. Your kid should be mature enough to understand the consequences of their own actions and how those actions would make others feel. Plus, they need to handle a weapon without it being a struggle.
Depending on your child’s personal development, this could be as early as 12 years old, but it could be as late as around 18. That’s why you should pay attention to their overall maturity level before bringing them along on a hunting trip.
Wait Until They Ask To Go
Regardless of how mature your child is, though, you shouldn’t take them hunting until they feel ready for it. Of course, it’s okay to introduce the idea to gauge their interest, but don’t force them into attending. Partaking in the hunting trip needs to be their choice; otherwise, they’re more likely to develop an aversion to it. Once they begin to show interest, then you can start planning your first trip together.
What To Do To Ease Them Into Hunting
Once you’ve determined when to take your kid hunting for the first time, you should come up with a plan to ease them into it. Some parents start with a mock hunting trip, in which there aren’t any weapons involved. Set up a practice site in a small park or your own backyard to show your kid what they need to do and how to watch for animals. That way, they’ll know what to do on their actual first trip.
Once you go on a real trip, it’s best to start them off with a bow or a low-caliber gun. That way, they are less likely to hurt themselves. Obviously, you should teach them all they need to know about using the weapon safely before you head out, but nothing beats training them in a place where no one else is around that could get hurt.
Also, focus primarily on small game for your first trip. If your child discovers that they love hunting, you can consider getting them a hunting shotgun that will be the right size for them to use during future trips. However, if they didn’t like the trip, be sure not to force them into another one unless they change their mind.