By Derek Klawitter
Here is a short list of helpful hints for taking a kid (or a rookie) out hunting. I find these hints also help for guiding aging hunters. For many years, my father did all he could to make sure my hunts were successful. Now the tides have turned, and I find myself going above and beyond to return years of favors as I never know when my dad will hang up his hunting hat.
1. Scouting – I personally have the attention span of a 3 year old, so when you are going to introduce someone new to hunting, it is good to have a “secret” spot where at least you will have a chance to see game. Spend some days ahead of time, checking the area to see if there is game present. Being in a game-rich environment will make the outing more enjoyable for everyone involved.
2. Preparing – Simple things like putting a snickers bar in your pocket or wearing an extra pair of socks on cold mornings make a difference. (Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than being cold!) Another way to be prepared is to bring a roll of toilet paper along. I know hunters are supposed to be rough and tough, but we all still have a tender side.
3. Time and Distance – It is always good to keep in mind how long you spend out in the field. Just because you can last 15 hours in a tree stand doesn’t mean others can or want to. At first, try to limit the time to no more than 2 to 3 hours. And little legs are not made for marathons, so keep the distance in perspective as well.
4. Remember who the hunt is for – I find it easier for all involved to only have the child/rookie hunt. Stick to playing guide when you take out beginners. That way you can dedicate all of your knowledge to the new recruit and not worry about bagging an animal yourself. Also, after the hunt, let the hunter tell all of the stories to mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Listening to how the child/rookie perceived the hunt is very educational.
5. Safety and Ethics – Safety while hunting is the number one concern. Risks with any dangerous activity are always higher with inexperience. Be a role model. New hunters are very moldable and if you take shortcuts and have questionable ethics, there is a great chance the child will pick up on these.
I hope all of these little hints help you introduce or reintroduce people to the great sport of hunting! If anyone has any other questions or concerns, visit me at The Outdoor Campus, and I would love to assist in any way I can.