Exposing your kids to new things is really important for their growth and development. That includes foods, places, activities, etc. It also includes hunting! Of course, it is nice to have some alone time, and not every hunting situation is safe for kids, but I highly encourage bringing your little ones with you when possible.
Take Your Kids Hunting
My husband and I started bringing our daughter, Amelia, hunting when she was 9 months old. We began by taking her duck hunting and setting up shop on a small island. We had to adapt where we would hunt in consideration of her safety and comfort. I will admit that bringing her while being so young was probably more exciting for her than it was for us. She was mobile but not walking so we had to make sure she stayed in a confined area which took a lot of planning and supplies.
And by supplies, I mean we brought a plastic storage bin to plop her in (lid off of course) which included an abundance of snacks and toys. She pretty much stayed in her bin for most of our hunt or else she was being held by one of us. As a family, we made some amazing memories. One day, we managed to stay in the marsh for 9 hours. On other hunts, we only lasted an hour or two. Either way, we made some pretty cool memories and it was really empowering to be able to say we take our infant hunting.
Fast forward ten months and Amelia is still coming hunting with us. However, hunting with her this season probably brings more joy for my husband and me than it does to her. We recently took her on a weekend goose hunt. This meant waking up at 4 am and delayed naps. One of those scenarios can sound like a disaster so having both early morning AND delayed naps had me a little nervous.
I figured I’d never know how it would go unless I tried, so off we went. Amelia was a TROOPER. She loved every second (minus a few meltdowns) of the hunt and it made me so happy. I would be lying if I said it was easy. The amount of planning, packing, and sacrifice to bring your young child hunting is pretty significant but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Since my husband was there as well, we took turns entertaining Amelia so the other could shoot. It was really fun watching Amelia see all the action. She especially loved getting out of the blind to look at the geese her puppy retrieved.
Preparing to Hunt with Your Kids
In terms of preparing to bring your little one hunting, I would suggest planning a bit ahead of time and gathering supplies. Snacks and drinks are the most important. I also brought a coloring book with markers, board books, and craft pompoms in a zip lock bag. I mention the zip lock bag because she really enjoyed putting things in it and taking them out.
A foldable kids’ chair was great so she could easily get up as she pleased. We put a towel on the ground designated as “her space” which was nice too, even if she didn’t really abide by that rule. The real MVP of the hunt were the Smarties. If you wake up at 4 am, you deserve some Smarties by 7 am.
Beka Garris also recommends suckers and I’m looking forward to trying that out during deer season when Amelia isn’t within arm’s reach of dirt to dip her sucker into. Although I was happy to have my arsenal of distractions, Amelia was most entertained by the goose calls, the water dish for the dog, and the dirt… So even if you forget to bring things for entertainment, I think your little one will be okay.
If you are on the fence about bringing your little one hunting with you, go for it! You’ll never know how it goes unless you try. Just start with low expectations – I guarantee you will be positively surprised.
Furthermore, there are a number of Instagrammers who bring their kiddos hunting or fishing. They inspired me to bring Amelia hunting and they continue to inspire me to bring her on adventures. I encourage you to find and follow similar accounts as well. The 1000-Hour Outside movement is also a great way to hold yourself accountable for including your little ones on adventures.
How old were your kids when you first took them hunting?
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