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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter is 3 1/2 years old and loves (or at least she thinks she does) hunting and looking for deer. My question is to you fathers who have had the opportunity to take your children to hunt with you. How did you know they were ready? When did you let them start shooting? Any information about past experiences would be appreciated.
I heard a great story this summer about a dad who had a similar situation with his young daughter. When he decided she was able to start joining him in the woods, he picked a comfortable spot for the two of them to sit (shooting house, or large 2-person blind) and planned ahead. He brought coloring books and snacks so she wouldn't get too bored and they only sat the last 45ish minutes of daylight to further help her temptation to get squirmy. If I recall correctly, they didn't actually shoot a deer the first year that she started sitting with him, but it gave her some understanding to what it was going to take to hunt the deer. This seemed like a great idea. We recently built a big shooting house on a long green field that has been consistently traveled by lots of does and yearlings. I think this might be a good spot to take her just to get the hang of sitting quietly for a while and hopefully she'll get to see her first deer from that perspective.
Over the summer, she walked with me to a field where I hunted last year to throw out some apples and set a camera just to take a look at who's around. The whole drive there, and walking out she couldn't stop talking about how excited she was to feed the deer. She understood just what we were doing, and wanted to put the camera up to see if "her deer" was still around - last year we got tons of pictures of a big 8pt that she claimed as hers. Every time I would look through pictures, she would hop in my lap and look through the countless doe pictures and when her deer would show up, she was quick to say "Daddy, that's MY deer!" So when we went to feed them, she was pumped. As we approached the field she gasped and when I looked at her, she pointed to the field and said "Daddy, look! DEER!" There were 3 does feeding on the old grass, and I asked her what should we do. I could have laughed out loud when she replied "You shoot them!"
Since then, when I get home from the woods, she gets excited and wants to hear about what I saw in the woods. Birds, squirrels, deer, pigs, anything, she just loves hearing about it.
She seems to comprehend everything from start to finish - planting fields, feeding them, watching them, shooting them, cleaning them, and her favorite part - eating them (the girl can't get enough venison jerky).
I just don't want her to lose interest, but I also don't want to rush her into it. So, hopefully some of you fathers will have some good advice for a young dad looking to take his baby girl to the woods. Sorry for the long story, I just get so excited thinking about how blessed I am to have her!
 

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Go now and do something that doesn't require much down time. Squirrel hunting works great. If you go to a blind deer hunting, just don't expect to see anything and enjoy the time. If you are expectant you will get aggravated when she fidgets. This is the point when hunting is all about them and not about you at all. Kinda like the first trip to Disney with the kids and you don't get to ride any fun stuff. As far as shooting I bought mine a cricket .22 before she was big enough to shoulder it, maybe 5. All of mine have shot that one early. Main thing is to enjoy the time.
 

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I am an avid hunter and love anything outdoors so my two girls have constantly been involved with me too. My youngest is 6 now and I have an almost 12 year old and they have been in the woods for about 4 years now (thats when I started) When my youngest goes to the shooting house, we do like you said, we pack a bag full of coloring books, blanket/pillow, drinks/snacks anything to keep her busy. A pair of binos is a good idea later on because as she gets older she can help keep an eye out. I have always shot when she was with me but she claims the deer :) they both help feed, watch me clean my kills and go through trail cam pics too.
I think its awesome to get your kids in the woods, and as much as I like my time alone out there I try and get them out too. We boat, fish, hunt, and camp so my girls are pretty excited about anything outdoors. My oldest is shooting for the first time this weekend because she wants to shoot one herself this year.

Good for you getting your kids involved- I also like the fact that my kids are learning a respectable ethical way to hunt and have an appreciation for the outdoors and the animals we are able to harvest!
 

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My oldest daughter (now six) has sat with me in the woods a few times since she was 4. She now has a BB gun and is getting good at killing cans. She will probably get a .22 rifle this or next year. Then I will step her up to a .243 probably when she's about 8. But it's dependant on their interest. Mine is interested but not heavily. I don't push her and this year she has been begging to go hunting with me.

But since I don't have a safe place this year (not taking her into BW) she has been unable to go. I will be looking for a lease next year just for the fact that she can go with me.

I would say 4 is a good time to take them into a shooting house. Make sure they have blankets and things to keep them busy. On the very first sit and not seeing anything my daughter made it 1 hr. I was impressed. Make it a fun day too. When my daughter went with me, it was a camping adventure with another club member and his kids. The kids always had a blast.
 

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SaltWaterDave
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I remember asking my brother for some advice on taking a youngin' hunting since he got started a year or two ahead of me. When I asked him what I should take for the kids he said Benedryl. Now I know why. You'd be surprised how noisy a child sitting as still as they can can be. Don't get me wrong though. I love taking my kids and they are learning well. But they don't quite understand the concept for a while. I have taken my boys, only one at a time, on several occasions. The best advice that I can give is you can only stay as long as you have food or snacks. And they have to be quietly packed. I like trail mix in zip lock bags and apples. My sons, for whatever reason, love to eat apples that I cut up right there with my pocket knife. But be sure to limit any water intake, those little bladders just don't last. The next advice is electronics, I know it seems counter to what you are trying to accomplish, but at least to begin with a game system or something to play videos will help them settle in and sit still when it is time. Head phones are a must but watch out for them to start giggling or talking loudly because they have earphones in.

If you have a dedicated shooting house I would also take some time to insulate it well, both for noise and weather, but mostly for noise. Go through it, put down carpet, do a close inspection for anything that creaks or knocks.

Just be patient with her and enjoy the time together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies guys! Keep them coming. I'm excited just thinking about her getting into it. Then right behind her, my son (will be 1yr this month) will hopefully be excited in a few years as well.
 

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Four kids and six grandchildren. Started between 3 and 4 years old. Bring lots of toys,food, and drink. Dont plan on shooting anything. Everything will interest them, every sound, every bird. It doesnt get any better than this. My oldest is 44 now. Great times, please enjoy them while you can.

RJ
 

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Dont plan on shooting anything. Everything will interest them, every sound, every bird. It doesnt get any better than this.

RJ
This is key. When I sense that my daughter is loosing interest in the stand, I will all of sudden start looking around like crazy asking her if she heard that noise. She instantly starts looking around and she's an eagle eye for a while longer. We will sit there and whisper about the funny things the squirles are doing around us etc... What's great is when a squirl makes a noise behind us or something. She will perk up and say daddy, I think there's a deer right behind us. We talk about the woodpeckers and even the bugs crawling around in the stand/shooting house. So far, I have seen turkeys when my daughter has been with me. But that's it. I don't plan to see a deer for a year or two till she can sit still longer and be a bit more quiet.:thumbup:
 

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I carried my son the first time when he was 6 months old. It was dog hunting though. He has been going since then. I even killed a deer the first race of the morning!!!
 

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My daughter is 3 1/2 years old and loves (or at least she thinks she does) hunting and looking for deer. My question is to you fathers who have had the opportunity to take your children to hunt with you. How did you know they were ready? When did you let them start shooting? Any information about past experiences would be appreciated.
I heard a great story this summer about a dad who had a similar situation with his young daughter. When he decided she was able to start joining him in the woods, he picked a comfortable spot for the two of them to sit (shooting house, or large 2-person blind) and planned ahead. He brought coloring books and snacks so she wouldn't get too bored and they only sat the last 45ish minutes of daylight to further help her temptation to get squirmy. If I recall correctly, they didn't actually shoot a deer the first year that she started sitting with him, but it gave her some understanding to what it was going to take to hunt the deer. This seemed like a great idea. We recently built a big shooting house on a long green field that has been consistently traveled by lots of does and yearlings. I think this might be a good spot to take her just to get the hang of sitting quietly for a while and hopefully she'll get to see her first deer from that perspective.
Over the summer, she walked with me to a field where I hunted last year to throw out some apples and set a camera just to take a look at who's around. The whole drive there, and walking out she couldn't stop talking about how excited she was to feed the deer. She understood just what we were doing, and wanted to put the camera up to see if "her deer" was still around - last year we got tons of pictures of a big 8pt that she claimed as hers. Every time I would look through pictures, she would hop in my lap and look through the countless doe pictures and when her deer would show up, she was quick to say "Daddy, that's MY deer!" So when we went to feed them, she was pumped. As we approached the field she gasped and when I looked at her, she pointed to the field and said "Daddy, look! DEER!" There were 3 does feeding on the old grass, and I asked her what should we do. I could have laughed out loud when she replied "You shoot them!"
Since then, when I get home from the woods, she gets excited and wants to hear about what I saw in the woods. Birds, squirrels, deer, pigs, anything, she just loves hearing about it.
She seems to comprehend everything from start to finish - planting fields, feeding them, watching them, shooting them, cleaning them, and her favorite part - eating them (the girl can't get enough venison jerky).
I just don't want her to lose interest, but I also don't want to rush her into it. So, hopefully some of you fathers will have some good advice for a young dad looking to take his baby girl to the woods. Sorry for the long story, I just get so excited thinking about how blessed I am to have her!
NOTHING beats spending time in the woods with ur kids whether u kill anything or not!!!
 

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The sooner you get her in the woods the sooner you start creating memories. The early years with my son seemed to go by so fast but at that age shooting is secondary. More about enjoying time together. :)
 

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I raised my 2 nephews and 2 sons from 5 to 11 at the time we would sneek hunt all morning then stop by a creek or pond to eat MRE. The youngest is now almost 18 ( we are going the 15th) I can tell you they all talk about it with a special twinkle in there eye. The 5 year old shot his first squirrel on the 2nd hunt with a 410 I restored for him. I can tell you they are all hooked and will do the same with their own children. Not only are you making special memories with them , you are also passing on a traditional way of life.
 

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I started taking my oldest when he was 2. We did more walking through the woods than sitting. Picking up sticks and rocks. Chasing bugs. We walked real quiet and tiptoed up on rabbits and stuff. Just wanted to make it fun for him and teach him a few things like being very quiet as we walk. The following year we sat in a shooting house for the last hour or so of day light at least once a week. He was very good about being quiet and taking his time. I always brought snacks and water. We saw deer almost every sit which was good. It kept him interested. Of course he stuck his head out the window and screamed at them a few times. You just got to remember to laugh and make it fun. If their ready to go and it's 5:00...then be willing to go. It's not about you but them... We also started shooting .22 a month or two before he turned 4. I set my .22 up in a lead sled and let him shoot dirt clots and stuff at the range. The next summer at 4yo he was killing milk jugs at 75yds with my AR with very little help. At 5 he is shooting all by himself. Just flip the safety off and he knows to hold the dot on the deer and squeeze the trigger very slowly. We have practiced it a bunch. He got his first deer a few weeks ago. Hit it dead perfect. He shook uncontrollably for 15mins after he shot it. So did I! He has begged me to take him again. He loves it. I'm just getting his 3yo brother going. He has sat with me a time or two and does pretty good for the most part. Fun stuff for sure!

If you want to see my boys 1st deer I posted a thread on here a few weeks back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. Great stuff.
Grassflatsfisher, I just found your thread with your boy's first deer. Almost teared up on that second picture with both boys. So awesome!
We've got a lot going on at the lease over the next few weeks, but maybe after the first of the year I can start taking my Annsley to the woods for a short sit. Man I'm excited!
Thanks again, everyone!
 
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