Looking for an engaging and fulfilling activity to do with your kids during the colder months?
Look no further than your local hunting areas. Hunting is a great way to get active during the fall and winter months. It’s also one of the best bonding experiences you can have with your child.
You don’t have to own land or even be an accomplished hunter to take your child hunting. With a few safety precautions and the right equipment, you and your child can experience nature together.
Keep reading for our complete gun safety guide to hunting with kids.
The Benefits of Teaching Kids to Hunt
Safe hunting is an activity loaded with benefits for you and your kids. Here are some of the best reasons to bring your kids into the hunting fold.
- It cultivates a love of the outdoors. Children who love the outdoors do better in school, are more creative and have better social skills than those who don’t. Plus, it’s always a good idea to teach kids respect for nature.
- It gets them unplugged. Unplugging is critical for good mental health! Kids need time away from the television and computer screen so their brains can develop.
- It gets them moving. Hunting means more physical activity, which is always a benefit. Plus, a little fresh air and sunshine never hurts.
- It teaches patience, confidence, and endurance. Hunting is a learned skill. By learning to hunt, your kids learn important lessons about how to handle all kinds of life situations.
- It gives you a chance to bond. In today’s age of social media, it’s even more important to bond with your children so they can let you in on what’s going on in their lives. Hunting gives you a great opportunity to spend quality time with them, ask them questions, and get to know them better.
Know the Rules
Before you start, familiarize yourself with the local gun and hunting rules and laws. Hunting laws vary from state to state. Visit your state website to make sure you’re doing everything legally.
If you’re planning to hunt in a different state, know the rules for both the state you plan to hunt in and your state. This is important for transporting guns over state lines.
Most states have age minimums for when children can start hunting. Some states require that children take firearm safety classes before hunting. And you should never let a child hunt alone until they reach the age mandated by the state for solo hunting.
Talk to Them About Guns
The most important thing you can do to make sure your kids have a safe relationship with guns is to talk to them. Kids gravitate toward things that are taboo. And that includes guns.
The more you talk about guns and gun safety, the more familiar your kids feel around guns. And the more respect they’ll have for the danger of guns.
Remind kids that guns in real life are not like guns on television. Movies and television romanticize guns and shooting. Make sure they’re aware that in real life, guns can kill you if you aren’t careful with them.
Be real with them about how many people die every year because of gun accidents and gun violence. Let them know that guns are never to be used for violence against other people.
Talk to them about what they should do if they encounter a gun somewhere other than in your presence. The NRA Eddie Eagle program has a great 4-step solution so kids know what to do if they find a gun.
- Stop. Remind your child to think about what to do next.
- Don’t touch. It’s very important that they know never to touch guns without your supervision.
- Run away. If they leave the area, they’ll be less likely to get hurt by someone else touching the gun.
- Tell a grown up. They should always find a grownup that they trust and let them know about the gun.
Get Them Familiar with Guns
The number one thing that your child needs to know for hunting is how to safely handle their gun.
And practice makes perfect.
Start slow. Make sure to unload your gun. Show them how to check the magazine and chamber to make sure they’re both empty.
This is a great opportunity to teach them that the trigger always means fire. Remind them that they should only touch the trigger if they mean to fire the gun. And they should never touch it if they don’t want the gun to fire.
Practice shooting at a firing range. Show them how to work all the parts of the gun. And how to load and unload the gun.
Use your shooting sessions to practice safe ways to carry the gun. Remind them that even with an unloaded gun, they should always point the gun in a safe direction, away from other people or themselves.
A child should have at least three shooting sessions under their belt before they head out on their first hunt.
Join a Shooting Club
One great way to boost your child’s confidence in gun safety is to join a shooting club. Check with your local firing range for suggestions.
Also, many 4-H clubs hold rifle shooting competitions. Kids love to compete. And a good shooting competition teaches them sportsmanship and gets them more familiar with shooting.
Clubs also offer hunting classes. These are beneficial to get your child used to picking up the gun, shouldering it, and firing during the hunt.
Safety While In the Field
First get your child used to the woods by spending time there before you hunt. Go for nature hikes so they know where the trails are. Explore the fields and streams near where you plan to hunt. The more familiar they are with their environment, the better.
If you’re hunting in a stand, bring the right safety equipment to get you and your child into the stand. We’ve got a great selection of safety equipment and accessories for your stand.
Always have your guns unloaded when you climb in and out of a tree stand. And make sure that your child’s gun is small enough to handle themselves while climbing or walking.
Protective clothing is essential for a successful hunting trip. First, always wear visible orange clothing. This is the law in many states and it’s safer to stand out from the brush around you.
Most people hunt early in the morning or during the cooler, fall season. Dress for the weather. We offer a wide range of clothing options for kids and the whole family.
Don’t forget accessories like a vest that has pockets to hold bullets and a buck knife. Also bring along hand warmers, gloves, hats, and face protectors to keep your skin safe from frostbite.
Having the right hunting gear not only makes your child safer but makes them feel special and important.
Your Child’s First Hunting Trip
When you’re finally ready to take your child out on a hunt, prepare ahead of time. First, remind them that hunting is all about the experience, not the result. If they don’t get a shot during the first trip, that’s totally fine! Talk to them of all the other great parts of the experience.
Make a plan for where you want to hunt beforehand. If you can, take a trip to the area a few days before. This helps you gauge how well they walk to and from the hunting area.
Bring snacks and water. Hunting is a game of patience and your child is less likely to stay patient if they are hungry and cranky.
Take time and let them dictate the pace of the hunt. Remember, they aren’t as skilled as you are so it’ll take them longer to get the hang of everything.
Remember to Have Fun Hunting with Kids
Our final piece of advice: have fun! Hunting with kids is a blessing for you and for them. It’s a wonderful way to get them exploring nature and away from electronics.
Talk to them about guns and gun safety. Take them out to get plenty of practice with their gun before you take them on the hunt. Enroll your child in a shooting club as a way to boost self-confidence and teach gun skills at the same time.
Prepare them for the environment by spending time in the area you plan to hunt. And make sure they’re dressed right and have all the accessories they need to succeed.
You’ll cherish these hunting memories for a lifetime!
The experts at Gander Outdoors are here to help you prepare for the hunt. Check out our hunting and shooting pages online for all the gear you’ll need. Or visit one of our locations to talk with a hunting expert.