Have a successful youth hunt before the pull of the trigger

You have more ways than ever to get youth involved in hunting. Whether it’s your own
child or a mentored youth, companies, state agencies and private organizations are helping to
recruit more hunters. Adapted youth hunting programs, tailored gear and collaboration between
organizations all boost the ease in taking youth hunters to the field. Even with all of these aspects
working in your favor you still need to plan to ensure success during a hunt. Although the pulling
of the trigger doesn’t necessarily make a new hunter, it doesn’t hurt either. The burst of
adrenaline and the dining results oftentimes sow the seed for a lifetime of hunting fun. Plan to
make it all come together.

SAFETY FIRST
Safety is first for hunting success. With the burst of mentored hunting programs coast to
coast you don’t necessarily need to enroll a child in an accredited hunter safety course first. That
means you need to be the safety instructor. Provide your new hunter with the basics according to
NRA guidelines. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction. Always keep your finger
off of the trigger until ready to shoot. Always keep the firearm unloaded until ready to use. Instill
these as a starting point. State mentored hunting programs also make safety a priority. For
example, in Pennsylvania you and a mentee may only have one sporting arm between you, and
the mentee can only hold it when they are in a stationary position.

PATIENCE PRACTICE
If you remember your youth you will recall that you struggled with sitting still constantly.
In today’s instant-gratification world of screen entertainment it’s more difficult for kids to
exhibit patience than ever before. Instead of fighting that condition look toward hunts and
hunting tactics that don’t require as much patience. Look at hunts with movement and interaction
included. Waterfowl hunting combined with setting decoys and using calls may be a better start
than an all-day sit for deer. Western pronghorn hunts embrace a spot-and-stalk approach and
even some turkey hunts require aggressive moves. More energy expelled equals less patience.

If patience is required for success employ blinds to veil any impatient movement your
hunter may display. Sitting in the shadows of a blind or hunting stand allows youth hunters to
look at their smartphone, read a book, enjoy a sandwich and for you to whisper additional
hunting wisdom.

FIELD FUN
In closing, have fun. Make as many lighthearted, competitive and compelling moments as
possible. Although success is the end game, even a missed shot can become a lifelong memory.
And most youth enjoy challenges. Take a rangefinder along and estimate distances with an end
digital confirmation. See who can navigate the quickest route back to the vehicle without electronic help. Lastly, never let nature happen unnoticed. Point out buck rubs, turkey
scratchings and the remains of a coyote dinner. These are all part of Mother Nature’s wonders.

Hunting has more to offer youth than most realize and it’s up to you to open the door.

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