Make a Kid’s First Hunting Trip Great

December 2020

By Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

As sure as I eat black-eyed peas and collard greens with hog jowls every New Year’s Day, we Americans love our traditions. For hunters, our passion for the outdoors and preserving our hunting traditions ranks right up there with apple pie, baseball, and cowboy boots.

Over one Thanksgiving dinner, my daughter Cheyenne announced out of the blue that she wanted to unplug after the stress of taking exams and go hunting during her winter break to try to harvest her first deer.

If you would like to take somebody hunting for the first time, I have a few suggestions that will better ensure they have a positive experience — which should help you also enjoy the experience more:

  • Make it about them. An afternoon hunt is a better option for a first-timer than going in the morning. Waking up super early and walking to a hunting spot in the pitch dark can be a scary experience for some new hunters, regardless of age.
  • Don’t plan to sit and hunt for too long. Be able to read their body language and have a pulse on whether they are getting bored or are not enjoying the experience of being in the woods. Hunting takes patience, and that can take a while to adapt to, especially in this day and age when most things are pretty instantaneous.
  • Pack snacks and entertainment. A book, tablet, or video game can be great to have along when the action is slow. This is especially true with younger kids, but I will admit to occasionally passing time on my smartphone in the woods, as well!
  • Be understanding. You can bet that if Cheyenne joins me in the woods again, she’ll have her phone — to let all her friends know exactly what she’s doing. Hey, we all get our passion for hunting in our own way, right?

When you can, offer to take somebody new hunting. Be a mentor and help connect others with nature by introducing them to a longstanding tradition that is such a big part of our American culture.