In order to hunt successfully with a kid it is important to make sure they have what they need in order to sit longer. Some of these are items and others are suggestions but I have found that combining these “essentials” will result in a more successful hunt and outdoor experience with kids.
Let them get an upclose view of whatever is in the woods. I have found that a simple pair of cheap binoculars can occupy a child for quite sometime and not to mention allow them see a close up view of whatever game you are hunting.
I know that clothing is a given but the proper hunting clothes are a must have. It is very important that the child is dressed for whatever conditions that you hunting. Layering properly is key. We buy regular light weight camo clothes that are one size to big. As the weather cools off we start adding more layers. Also, throw in a good pair of waterproof boots. Plus kids love Camo!
Pack plenty of treats to enjoy. We typically pack M&M’s, Skittles, Bubbke Gum, Juice, Crackers and the list goes on and on. I found that it is best to have more than the child can eat. Also, I like to unwrap the snacks and place them in individual zip lock bags. This will reduce the noise when opening the snack. A thermos with hot chocolate is also a great idea to pack.
8. Weapon for the Kid
I feel that is important that we take a gun or bow along with us for the child. Even if it is just a toy. This gives them ownership of an item and gives you an excellent opportunity to preach safety. I let Cameron choose which gun he wants to carry. Most of the time it is his red ryder BB gun but occasionally he will choose one of his toy guns. We leave the ones that make firing sounds or noise at the house.
7. iTouch or other Gaming Device
A electronic device while hunting… You might be thinking what has this world came to? The truth be told I use my iPhone from the stand a lot. Cameron is more than welcome to bring his iTouch along with us. It’s hard for a kid to sit still for several minutes much less several hours. The iTouch or other devices can provide hours of entertainment. I have several hunting games and outdoor apps loaded on his. He likes to hunt while we actually hunt! A camera, preferably one integrated into the device is something fun too.
6. Hot Hands
Hot Hands will help keep the child warm on those cold hunts. One morning not to long ago I found myself removing Cameron’s boots to place hot hand packs on his feet. By doing this it prolonged our hunt and allowed us to see several more deer. There is also a certain amount of curiosity to how those little packets instantly warm up. Oh, I have heard they can be used to warm up a granola bar for a gooey treat!
5. Game Calls
Another great item that gives ownership or a job for the child. Let’s face it. Hunting with a kid can be challenging when you ask them to be quite for such a long time. I have found that allowing them to work “The Can” or blow a grunt tube helps. I plan on purchasing some rattling horns for one of our upcoming hunts. Although, I am concerned that it might do more harm than good in our area I am sure he will have a blast making some extra noise. I do not let him use the calls repeatedly. We wait just like you would if you were hunting alone. This gives the child something to look forward to and can even bring them back to the hunt once they appear to get bored.
With all the extra gadgets and gear that you will be hauling in and out of the woods you will need an extra pack. We have bought Cameron his very own camo backpack. He controls what goes in it for the most part. He enjoys having his very own backpack and knows that it is his responsibility to carry it in and out of the woods.
3. When to leave
My rule is simple. Leave whenever he is ready. The last thing I want to do is make him stay longer when he is ready to go… Even if it is “prime time”. I fear that if I make him stay longer than he wants that he will eventually stop going. I do encourage him that we should stay just a little longer but if he is visibly tired of hunting we pack up and go. Now that Cameron is 6 he can easily sit for a few hours without any problems but when he was younger we were limited on time.
2. Hunt Comfortably
Most of our stands are large “Hotel” box blinds built out of wood. These stands are large 4×8 wooden stands that are elevated 15′ in the air. Not only do they provide comfort but they are extremely safe. We also have several two man ladder stands scattered around. Last year on Cameron’s request I purchased a pop up hunting blind. He calls it our hunting tent. The blind is easy to set up. We tend to hunt in the hotel stands more than the ladder stands. This allows for more movement without being detected.
Being patient is a true virtue with a child. Be prepared for them to talk or move at the worst possible time. I think it is impossible to expect for a kid to behave as an adult while hunting so expect for them to make a mistake. Create a communication plan for hunting. I have found that having a “secret” sign is helpful and fun when game has been sighted. Be creative but try to make the sign as discreet as possible. We use a simple nudge when we spot deer and a hand gesture to indicate buck or a doe.
Hopefully these tips will help you have success on your next outing with a child. Feel free to leave a comment below!