Case: Eggs aren’t the only things kids can hunt in the great outdoors

AP photo by Nathan Howard / Steven Guinness Jr., 14, searches for a moose shot by the Stevens' family hunting party in September 2021 along the shore of the Yukon river near Stevens Village, Alaska.
AP photo by Nathan Howard / Steven Guinness Jr., 14, searches for a moose shot by the Stevens' family hunting party in September 2021 along the shore of the Yukon river near Stevens Village, Alaska.

Maybe we could all agree we live in a crazy time. Some people can't seem to agree on much of anything anymore.

And here I am bringing up the subject of hunting, of all things.

If you think you are against hunting, or maybe you are kind of on the fence about one of our oldest traditions, maybe you will give me a few minutes to point out what’s good about taking young people to the field to go hunting — which is an important part of the effort to make sure our outdoors heritage continues through the generations.

Natural appeal

Hunting gets kids outside and introduced to the great outdoors.

Hopefully no one has a problem with kids spending more time outside these days. There is an entire world out there for a young person to discover, and if this outdoors exploration is done without a cellphone or other digital devices serving as distractions, even better.

It's important to remember not all hunting has to be sitting quietly in a blind from dusk to dawn. Sometimes to be successful in hunting, we need to teach our young people (and some older people) the importance of scouting. This usually entails roaming our hunting area without any firearms or bows. The kids are free to be kids, running through the woods, splashing across a creek, perhaps swinging on the occasional grape vine. (No kid will turn these things down!)

At the same time, you can throw in a quick lesson on finding animal tracks, identifying them and guessing what the game we are after might be eating this time of year.

It is all up to you, the adult mentor, as to how you present it. Give them options and let them choose.

Fresh air and fitness

Maybe you have never thought about it, but being an avid hunter can help with your physical fitness. Think about the times you overdid it walking to a place where you wanted to hunt or letting peer pressure from some of your comrades lead you into overexerting yourself.

Most of the physical part of hunting is usually walking, so kids can do this if you measure what you are doing and keep in mind the age and limits of the individual child. Don't overdo it is the obvious first rule.

Make a game out of it and let the kid decide. How far do you want to walk today? Do you want to go a little farther? Do not do as I did and expect a kid to walk as far as you want to, because this is a sure way to turn a young hunter off for the next trip. I repeat: Don't do it!

Fun in the formula

After the first two points (and maybe even before then), you would think you would not have to be told this, but hunting can be fun for kids, too!

If the adults do their part, that is.

(READ MORE: Hey, this is supposed to be fun, remember?)

At first, while we are measuring how much of an interest level this child has, keep the sessions short and sweet. A quick scouting trip to check for turkey or deer tracks, throwing some rocks in the creek, and then stopping in town for some rooster nuggets or ice cream on the way home may be all you need for one day.

  photo  Contributed photo / Young hunter David Hightower of Ellijay, Ga., displays his turkey. "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case was once a young hunter himself, and he can think of lots of good reasons to continue the tradition of introducing young people to the outdoors in this way.
 
 

Lifelong lessons

Hunting teaches us skills and lessons that make us not just better in the outdoors, but better people and citizens in our everyday lives.

Things like patience, discipline and endurance are important to all of us in life, whether we are hunters or not. And that patience thing is a biggie, because not everything in life is about instant gratification. Kids (and adults) need to learn this, and hunting is a great way to do it. In the hunting world, young people can learn the importance of sticking to something for the long haul and the rewards to be had for this.

Inclusion, independence

It's important to let kids do things on their own, and hunting is great way to allow them to grow into responsibilities they may have thought of as beyond their grasp. When you let a young person be a part of the hunt and take on jobs and activities they see adults doing, you really get their attention.

Show them how to use a box call for turkeys and let them call some (sometimes they are quite good). Let them handle and carry a firearm (even if it is unloaded) under your careful supervision. Insist they take part in camp chores such as carrying a few sticks of firewood or washing dishes.

(READ MORE: Deer camp is a hunting tradition worth your time and effort)

Kids see this as them being part of the gang, and they will always appreciate it.

Firearms safety

Guns are everywhere in our world, and even if you don't plan on hunting or owning firearms, you should know some basics for gun safety.

Hunting teaches the basic rules: Treat every gun as if it were loaded (all guns are loaded all the time), never point a gun at anything you don't plan to shoot, and make sure of your target and what is beyond it. Hunting teaches these things in a way the young person can understand and see the importance of following safety rules, and these lessons often stick with them for life.

Well, as you hunters know, we could go on a lot more about the important lessons hunting can teach our young people.

This time of year, many of us are ready to hit the woods to chase our greatest game bird, the wild turkey. Consider taking a kid with you. If you don't have one of your own, find one nearby and introduce them to it.

Take them out to listen for turkeys (they will often hear better than you do), let them call some, maybe set up a ground blind and let them see a finicky old gobbler come strutting in. You will see all this in a new way: through the eyes of a young hunter. And you will not regret it.

What does that guy on the Guns & Cornbread website always say?

Keep your guns clean, your knife sharp and take a kid hunting.

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at larryocase3@gmail.com.

Upcoming Events