Dustin Hardage
Colorado big game hunting photos

This year I didn’t get a cow or trophy bull elk, nor did I get a 10-point mule deer like last season. This year was a meat hunt.

However, here are some tips on how to create a great hunting experience for your child … and help you get your kids hunting.

My goal the last three years has been to take my son Ethan out deer hunting. Even though he is not old enough to shoot big game, I still take him out each year. To make this doable, I have a found a place about an hour away from home.

This year’s hunt went even better than I expected.  Some of it had to do with the hunting and our success. But, it was also great quality father-son time. During these hunting trips we get to talk, something that can easily allude us in the business of life at home. I am always amazed at the questions he asks and how often I don’t have all the answers.


Kids Hunting: 3 Ways to Create a Great Hunting Experience

Here are some things I’ve learned over the last three years of taking Ethan hunting. We started going when he was six years old.

1. Commit to it

Sounds simple, but I have found if I don’t put in on the calendar and plan on get my tag via the draw it simply just won’t happen. I have dedicated my deer hunting to taking my sons and I plan on it a year in advance. I use my elk hunt as my focused hunting trip. This allows me to focus my deer hunt on the experience I want my sons to have.

2. Don’t be so serious

Sometimes I find myself taking the hunt a bit too serious, pushing too hard, and not letting my son just be a kid. Let him act silly. It’s not the end of the world if he is making too much noise. Just take a deep breath and find a way to make it a teaching moment. Help him understand how wild game can hear and smell so much better than us. If you do it right, they will be reminding you of things before the hunt is over.

3. Make sure they have a great experience

  • Stay warm with the right gear. Don’t skimp on their equipment.
  • Don’t over do it.
    • Hike at their pace.
    • Scout the country ahead of time to ensure it is something they can handle.
  • Alternate hunting tactics, walk, glass, drive, atv … change it up.
  • Keep it short.
    • I usually do a long weekend for starters and it has worked great.

Kids-hunting-deerIt was obvious this year that Ethan had a couple of hunting trips under his belt. Previously, I remember his frustration of not being able to spot the animals. But this year, it was him who located the deer we killed (as well as many more he spotted). He was also able to hike further, longer and significantly contribute to getting the deer back to camp.

Most importantly, he had fun and he can’t wait until next season.

Mission accomplished.


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