Still, in many hunting camps, it's easy to find hope in the eyes of a kid who can't sleep but for the excitement of opening day. Those early experiences in the woods are critical to the future of hunting. Here's how you can help make the most of them.
So, when is your kid old enough to hunt? Even though some states have minimum age requirements, there is no magic number to determine readiness. My kids all started at different ages. Here are some guidelines and advice to help you decide.
Take Them With You: Short trips to the woods to observe you or help scout will give kids a feel for things. Patience isn't a trait often found in young kids, so taking them on quick outings before they're ready to shoot teaches the importance of sitting still and being quiet without putting the outcome of a hunt on the line.
Go Shooting: Marksmanship and firearm safety is just as important as the ability to sit quietly. Begin teaching good shooting habits to kids as soon as they can safely hold a gun. Start shooting with an air rifle or .22 to teach aiming and trigger control, and don't move up to a centerfire anything until they've mastered a firearm with a quiet report and no recoil. Don't rush this process; until they can confidently and effectively handle a gun without your assistance, they aren't ready to hunt.
Make Meat: Kids who grow up in the country usually understand the connection between the animals they see and the meat on their table at a young age, but a kid from town may not. It's important for young hunters to grasp the realities of killing an animal before the moment of truth.