We all have some kind of passion in the outdoors, whether it is hunting, fishing, camping, or hiking. The outdoors has something for everyone to enjoy. Unfortunately, video games, urbanization, and expenses keep many people from experiencing Mother Nature. I have talked to people from cities that have never been fishing or that had never even seen what the stars really look like because of the city lights. How sad is that?!
This problem can be solved without much effort. The reason those people didn’t ever get to experience those great times is because no one introduced them to the outdoors as a child, so they never got an interest in it. Unfortunately, it is a problem that can be easily fixed but not many people are willing to take the time to do it! You don’t have to have your own kids to introduce to the outdoors. There are plenty of opportunities to get youngsters out there!
The first time out hunting can make or break an experience, however. So this means that if you plan on taking a young one out in the woods, you have to make sure they will stay interested. Squirrel, rabbit, waterfowl, and turkey hunting, as well as bowfishing, are excellent ways to keep them interested because of their fast action. Make sure you scout ahead of time and plan to hunt a good area when you take them out. If you take the young one out that has high expectations, and then those expectations are not filled, they may decide that they don’t like it and not want to do anymore of it. It would be like going out fishing and not having a single bite!
Also, stop and just soak it in. What do I mean by this? Well, one of the biggest aspects of hunting is just relaxing and taking a minute to respect what you are in. Pick up a leaf and teach the new hunter what kind of tree it came from. Stop by a poison ivy plant and tell them to avoid those plants. Show them a set of deer tracks and teach them what direction they are going. Anything like this is part of being a true outdoorsman, and knowing these types of things add to the experience and understanding of the great outdoors.
As a final preparation to taking the youth out, you should find your local NWTF Jakes event, DU Greenwings event, RMEF youth program, or any other conservation event and take the youth to them. There are also many programs and events through the National Shooting Sports Foundation for kids. They will see the hundreds of other kids that are starting out just like them and it will spark their interest more before you hit the woods!
In the last few years, many states have been putting in mentoring systems for youth hunting that allows young ones to hunt without having taken a firearms safety course as long as they are within arm’s reach of a responsible adult that has completed firearms safety. Most states also offer youth hunts on weekends, usually before the regular seasons open, in which an adult can go out with a new hunter and teach them the ways without worrying about hunting over-pressured animals. Some people look down on this, but really, it is a great way to get those youngsters out earlier in life when they are more prone to finding new and interesting hobbies that they will carry on throughout their entire life.
Everyone reading this has a great opportunity this spring. With turkey hunting right around the corner, figure out what your state laws are and introduce a kid to the outdoors, whether they are carrying a gun or just tagging along! Get them out in the woods to hear those gobblers and see them strutting through the timber! There is no better way to learn the ways of the land than turkey hunting. I challenge each of you to find one child that has never hunted before and take them out to the turkey woods this spring. If you follow some of my tips, you will form memories that will last a lifetime and help the youth find a passion that they will cherish for years to come.
To find local events for conservation organizations, you can go to any of the following links: