Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog
In today’s technology-driven world, kids have plenty of things to keep them busy, like video and computer games as well as TV and texting on their phones. But there are very few activities that involve the outdoors.
Unfortunately, bonding activities like hunting with your son or daughter are slowly fading away in favor of the latest and greatest entertainment technology. Instead of buying a fancy iPad, buy your child a durable pair of hunting boots and take them out for a day of hunting in nature. But before you do, check out this vital safety guide on hunting with kids so you can ensure you have a safe and fun outdoor adventure.
The Benefits of Teaching Kids to Hunt
There are many benefits to hunting with your children. They learn self-reliance because they know how to hunt and can feed the family. Kids also learn about the food cycle and connect the food on their plate to the animals in the woods.
Another benefit is they learn to be nature conservationists by learning the delicate balance between animals and their habitat. You can teach kids critical information–like never taking more than you need to ensure there are plenty of animals in the future.
Hunting also helps children develop character strengths such as patience, endurance, discipline and confidence. It’s also a tradition passed on that they’ll cherish and enjoy with their own kids one day.
There are many health benefits to hunting. It decreases blood pressure and reduces stress, as well as leads to mindfulness overall.
Hunting also teaches kids how to save money by eating the meat they harvest. It’s healthier, too, since meat in grocery stores contains hormones, antibiotics and artificial preservatives.
Gun Safety Is of the Utmost Importance
The best thing you can do for your children is to teach them about gun safety. The more familiar they are with guns and the more knowledgeable they are, the more respect they have for the danger they pose.
Kids need to understand that guns in real life aren’t like the ones they see on TV. Many movies and shows glamorize guns and violence. Children need to understand that firearms can kill people if they are careless.
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Eddie Eagle GunSafe® is a gun accident prevention program. With help from law enforcement, community groups, educators and parents, kids ages Pre-K through 4th grade learn the importance of gun safety and what to do if they find a gun. It’s a four-step approach:
Stop when you see a gun and think of what to do next.
Don’t touch the gun. Never touch a firearm without adult supervision.
Run away from the area for safety so no one can hurt you with the gun.
Teach them to always find a grown-up.
Teach your children how to use a firearm safely so they can get comfortable and familiar with how guns work. They need to understand the mechanics of a firearm–like how to check the chamber to see if it’s loaded, how to load and unload it and how to use the safety. While teaching them about the gun, show them how to carry it properly. They also need to be able to raise the rifle or shotgun to their shoulder, find the target and pull the trigger.
Check with your local gun clubs to see if they have youth hunting and shooting programs. Some states require everyone who hunts to complete some type of gun safety class.
Know the Hunting Rules for Your State
Every state has different gun and hunting laws and rules. You can visit your state’s local website to ensure you know what you can and can’t do. Since gun and hunting laws can change, make sure you always consult the laws and regulations so you hunt legally and safely.
If you plan on hunting in a different state, be sure to understand those rules, including transporting firearms over state lines. Never let a kid hunt alone unless they are the age mandated by state laws. Ideally, kids need to have two or three long shooting sessions before you take them hunting.
Choose the Right Hunting Gear
Your kid needs to dress like a hunter to be a hunter, so buying the right hunting gear is vital. There are two important colors to wear for hunting: blaze orange and camouflage. Hunting clothes need to keep you warm and dry. If you live in an extremely cold region or somewhere that gets a lot of snow, snow pants are an excellent investment.
Children going hunting also need gloves, a hat, rain gear, thick socks, a scarf, a good pair of hunting boots and long underwear.
They also need some essential equipment, such as a bow or rifle. Just make sure it’s the right size for them to shoot correctly and safely.
For the best hunting experience, familiarize your child with the woods. Before you go hunting, go play in the woods, take your kids camping, play in creeks and go walking in the forest. Allow them to observe and explore nature so they feel more comfortable there.
Spending time in the woods doesn’t just make them a better hunter. It helps them get out of the house. Teach your children how to walk quietly and that they must be still to watch squirrels and other animals.
Keep the sport of hunting alive by spending some time in the woods with your child or teenager. Hunting creates a lasting hobby that instills the love of nature with your kids. Teach them about conserving the world they live in and the value of harvesting food for their family.
Getting your kids off their electronics and back out into the world helps you raise them to make healthy choices. They also learn to enjoy being in the outdoors for the rest of their lives.
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