Hunting enthusiasm is more infectious than the flu among youngsters who grow up hearing hunting stories from parents, uncles, aunts, and friends. Unfortunately, a majority of American youth are raised in non-hunting families and never share this excitement or learn firsthand the enjoyment of nature and wildlife conservation. It’s our responsibility as sportsmen to “share the magic.” This is equally as important as checking the zero on a rifle before opening day. If you have a youthful relative or friend who expresses an interest about hunting, keep these tips in mind:
1. Check your state regulations for youth hunting. A youngster may need a hunter safety course, unless your state has a mentoring program.
2. Practice shooting with a BB, pellet, or rim-fire rifle. Cover the basics of firearm safety and then make shooting exciting: Task them with making a soda can fall over in one shot; fill it with water and watch it explode with a rim-fire hit.
3. Play hunting video games and read through magazines until the student has a realistic expectation of hunting and what the challenge is like. Deer are exciting game animals, yet a squirrel or rabbit is a great way to learn.
4. Accentuate the partnership. Take the youngster with you as you check a trail camera, prepare a food plot, or hang a tree stand. Show that hunting can be more than a once-a-year event.
5. Skip opening day. First hunts should be fun while opening days are often rigorous with long waits in cold situations. Better to take a student of the game when there’s less pressure for success and more focus on the experience.
6. Finally, play CSI with success. Encourage your nimrod to interact during the field dressing process and guide him/her through the anatomy of a deer. Properly field dressing a deer is a skill best taught over time, so you should demonstrate the first time. Also, speak to the best venison cuts and how the animal will be consumed so there’s a direct link to the table. Young folks have many recreational decisions available to them and encouraging and guiding them through the hunting process will never be forgotten.