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Over the past ten years or so we have heard more and more about getting children involved in the outdoors, hunting, and the shooting sports. There are great programs in place to help young people learn how to hunt, how to shoot, how to be responsible and conserve out hunting habitat, like the NWTF Jakes Program. There are also classes in every state for new hunters to obtain their Hunters Education Certification AS well. But are we as parents, teachers and hunters doing out part.
My husband Jim and I have been doing Outdoor Classroom and Archery Programs for children, youth, and women for eleven years. There is definitely not a lack of interest in hunting, but we keep hearing the same thing from our students; "My Dad won’t take me hunting, he says I’m too young". The question we hear from parents is "how old should my child be before I take him/her hunting?"
Our daughter started going when she was around 4 or 5 years old. She was very quiet and loved to be in the woods with us and had no problem spending time in a Gorilla treestand or in a Carbon Express ground blind with her Dad. So how young is too young? There is no certain age you have to be to go to the woods with your family. Most of my friends growing up were introduced to hunting in a dove field, their job was to be the "dog", to go and pick up the birds as they were shot. This kept the young hunter active and they didn’t have to sit still for an extended period of time. My Dad started me in the woods when I was around 5 years old, we would go on scouting adventures early season for deer sign. Jim can’t remember a time when he didn’t go with his Dad or Grandpa, he was always in the outdoors.
You have to understand your child, some can sit quiet in a treestand or blind and others would have to be bound and gagged to be able to be still and quiet for five minutes. Jim and I believe a great way to introduce a young person to the wonderful world of hunting is a Turkey hunt. If your child is too young to take a Hunters Ed course, most states allow them to hunt off of your current hunting license until they are 16 years old. If they are in the learning phase and not ready to hunt themselves they can still go with you and you will have a great time teaching them the basics. Let your children learn how to call, just make sure to start teaching them months before season opens. You will be amazed at how quickly they learn to use a box call or a slate. Older children take to the diaphragm like a duck to water. Quaker Boy Games Calls have great youth models for smaller pallets and they are easier than ever to make great sound with. Teaching your children how to call is a great benefit to you as well. Sitting them up slightly behind you with their call will help you sound like several hens instead of just one. This will sometimes get the attention of a big Tom that is already hened up.
Turkey hunting also provides a hunt where the weather is not so cold and most hunters don’t stay in the woods past lunch. This way you don’t have to worry about your children getting bored or getting to fidgety. Turkey hunting is action packed. Let’s not forget about roosting the turkeys. This is as much fun as the actual hunt. Watching those huge birds fly up into the trees can send some of us into a Turkey stupor. But regardless of all the fun you will have roosting the turkeys you have to remember that your new hunter will have to get out of bed early so make sure they have a good night’s sleep. You never know, that "Jake" you take to the woods when they are young might turn out to be the best hunting partner you will ever have. So, TAKE A JAKE!
Alaska and the Yukon
North Alabama, Mississippi p
and North Georgia
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