Hunting is a treasured American pastime, not only because hunters go out in hopes of bringing home game meat, but also because time spent in the field can be such an enriching experience. Whether it’s enjoying the sunrise, sunset, or the hours of peace and quiet spent leaning up against a tree or sitting in a blind, hunting has so much to offer. And if you have kids, there are endless reasons to take them hunting. Legally speaking, all states define and consider a person under the age of majority (usually 18 years old) as a “minor.” A minor cannot fully exercise the same rights or liberties as adults until they come of age. Read on to find out why we believe kids should put down their electronics and hit the woods.
What Do Kids Learn from Hunting?
Taking kids hunting gives them more than just outdoor time (although that’s important on its own). The prep work alone for a hunt teaches them attention to detail and provides a useful life skill. Teaching kids to use firearms and bows safely helps them focus, control their breathing, and understand that consistent effort results in great improvement. There are other benefits as well, such as working on memory skills, learning math when calculating drift and drop or zeroing optics, and developing a sense of responsibility for themselves and those around them.
As for the hunt itself, kids learn how to move quietly in the woods when stalking game or walking to a blind, and they get a good dose of “how to be patient” while waiting for game to appear. Patience is a fantastic life skill, one that grows tenfold through time spent hunting.
An appreciation for nature and gratitude for the animals you hunt are a big part of hunting in general. And you might not always get a deer, but you will always have the chance to point out wildlife and plants to your kids. Hunting provides the opportunity to give your kids an education in the great outdoors, and that is a priceless gift.
Hunting with kids also teaches them to be calm and gives them the skills to handle an adrenaline rush. That might seem insignificant, but finding out early on that you can control yourself in a stressful situation is invaluable. This extends beyond developing patience as a child and leads to becoming a more balanced person overall while growing up.
From field to table, kids learn more life skills from hunting than can possibly be listed here.
At What Age Can Kids Legally Hunt?
The age kids are allowed to hunt depends on the county, state, and often the game being hunted. Legally speaking, minors can’t own firearms, apply for their own licenses, or hunt certain types of game alone. The age kids can hunt alone varies by state. . For example, in Idaho, generally kids aged 10 and up can hunt under the supervision of an adult. Once they are 12 years old, they can hunt on their own. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, public land hunts have the following requirements: “Youth under 17 years old are required to be under the immediate supervision of a permitted adult, at least 18 years old, who is licensed to hunt in Texas.”
Of course, there are also requirements for hunter’s education in every state.
What Is Hunter’s Education?
Hunter’s education is a short course required by every state to ensure hunters receive some safety information before they go out in the field. The age requirement varies by state, and if you are over a certain age, you are exempt (this age varies; for example, in some states you are exempt if you were born before 1971). Once you successfully complete the course, you will be given a hunter’s education number that you will need in many states to get a hunting license.
Hunter-Ed.com provides this description:
All Hunter Ed hunter safety education resources and hunter’s safety courses have been developed in conjunction with the state hunting safety agencies responsible for hunter education and are approved by the International Hunter Education Association.
Through comprehensive instructional content and illustrations, interactive learning exercises and games, and the best hunting safety videos available anywhere, students learn about firearm safety, hunting fundamentals, conservation, and hunting laws and regulations while completing a state-approved safety course with Hunter Ed.
Our hunter education courses not only prepare students for safe hunting experiences, but they also help hunters have successful—and ethical—hunts. Subjects covered in Hunter Ed courses include firearms and ammunition, hunter safety tips, hunting techniques, wildlife identification, first-aid, and more.
In some states, it is sufficient to take hunter’s education courses online and pass any necessary tests. However, in other states, kids are required to also attend an in-person safety event if they are under a certain age; in some that age is 18, and in others it is 12. The fees associated with getting a hunter’s education card also vary by state, so be sure to check your local hunter’s education requirements.
How Can I Teach Kids About Being Safe While Hunting?
Safety starts at home, not in a hunter’s education class. Before you ever take your kids hunting, you should teach them gun safety, and they should be able to prove they will follow the rules. The four rules of gun safety are:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded, always.
- Never allow the muzzle of a gun to cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target.
- Know your target and what is beyond it.
Other safety issues, such as safe gun handling, take time to instill. Start small, and understand that when kids are younger, you will be carrying and handling guns for them. Do not expect a 5-year-old to safely sling a rifle and hike through the woods. All kids are different and will handle responsibility or be trustworthy at varying ages. It is your job to make sure they learn to be safe and that they will obey the appropriate safety rules and listen to what they are told without question, because firearms are not toys, and hunting should always be taken seriously.
Follow all local regulations for the wearing of blaze orange and other safety measures, as they can and often do vary from state to state.
What Else Can Kids Do During a Hunt?
Kids can help with a lot of activities that lead to successful hunts. They can help plant and maintain food plots, check trail cameras, and assist in baiting (assuming that is legal in your area). Filling feeders is fun for kids and provides another opportunity for time spent together away from electronics and noise. There are many other things kids can do, too, like repairing and checking fences and learning the boundaries of your property if it is a private land hunt. Gear needs to be maintained, and so do vehicles if you use trucks or side-by-sides to reach your favorite hunting spots. It is never too early for kids to learn practical life skills.
Do We Have to Shoot Something for a Hunt to Be Successful?
No. Teach kids that hunting is about the entire experience, not just making one shot. Spending time outdoors with your kids is enjoyable enough on its own. Take binoculars so they can watch for animals and appreciate nature in action. Bring a camera so they can take pictures of whatever interests them as well as record memories to look back on. Some kids enjoy drawing the animals they see, too. And of course, don’t forget the snacks. Snacks are one of the best parts of hunting!
Even if you are not an experienced hunter, you can get involved in hunting now and teach your kids as you learn together; the memories you’ll make will be well worth the time spent. If you are a hunter and would like to enjoy the legal defense for self-defense coverage of U.S. LawShield in the field, take a look at our HunterShield® coverage. If you’re teaching your kids to be responsible shooters and future gun owners in general, hunting or not, consider Minor Children Coverage. Our Minor Children Coverage extends all the benefits and legal protections you enjoy as a current U.S. LawShield member to your child or children, so they will be covered the same way you are. Join the U.S. LawShield family here, or contact us to add on to your existing coverage.
The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.
When I lived in California I was a hunter education instructor and found it to be a very rewarding experience. I usually taught 3 to 4 classes per year. Each class could have up to 25 students. Most of my students were between the ages of 12-18, however, sometimes there would be a 10 or 11 year old in there. Or even sometimes there might be an adult, over 21. For the very young students I recommended that the parents attend the class with their child.
What I also found interesting was the number of female students that would come to my classes. Typically, I would have to say that 20-25% of each class was female. A lot of them were going to be bow hunters, as my granddaughter was a bow hunter. I had one female come through my class that was going to hunt with a hawk. She even brought her bird to class once to show and tell how she was learning how to do hunt with a bird.
So I said all that to say, if you are a hunter it might be well worth you time to become a hunter education instructor and share you knowledge and experiences with another generation of young hunters.