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Thread: Good age for kids, Big game hunting

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    Default Good age for kids, Big game hunting

    When I was a boy at 12 y.o. we 'walked with dad.' If you paid attention, and showed maturity, then the next year you MIGHT get a hunting license and actually pack a gun. Still hunting at dad's side. Seems like these days guys are often looking for a new hunting buddy, and grooming a 10 y.o. to go with them. i grew up in a logging/hunting family, and even though bird hunting and such was encouraged at a young age, big game hunting was not. i doubt most kids are emotionally ready for big game hunting at 10, but lots of guys put their kids in for permits, or plan hunts for them at that age. My oldest was just shy of 12 when he shot his first moose. There was still a pile of supervision involved. What say you? Yeah, I know, depends on the kid. I still say 10 is probably too young for big game. I don't remember anyone younger than Jr. High deer hunting when I was in school.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I think it partially depends on the kid, and partially on the kid's training/exposure to hunting. I think you hit on an important point there - whether they are ready emotionally. Taking a life is no small thing, though I suppose that could apply to small game hunting just as much as larger game. My boys are not there yet, but I keep 10 years old in mind as a reasonable target while recognizing that I may need to adjust it depending on my son.

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    I was taken out hunting from a very young age and took my first moose at 7 yrs old ( young man with the hat). What would 3 more years have done? I had been on past successful hunts, helped my parents cut up moose, caribou and bear. Taught gun Saftey and practiced a lot with that old 35remington.I'm glad my father taught me to hunt at the age he did. I plan to do the same if my kids have the desire to go out. If there is passion there help build them into a responsible, ethical hunter.
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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    Sure it depends on the kid, however in my mind it depends on how the parent has raised the kid. My boys have grown up hunting. Started shooting sea otters. Once they, and I felt comfortable with muzzle control they moved on. My oldest shot his first moose at 13 following two previous trips to moose camp. The youngest took a nice bull this year at age 9, making a controlled and very comfortable 150 yard shot. Middle boy to his first moose this year as well. All are very comfortable with guns and hunting. Nothing more rewarding than huntig with kids. I never pushed them, they showed their own interest.
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    Depends on the kid...heck, I know 40 year old men who aren't ready to kill something.

    I took my son out with me starting pretty young- around 5 or 6, lots of short day hunts- he packed a bb gun so he could feel like he was participating . He ate wild game almost every day so what hunting was all about wasn't a mystery. He was pretty happy to just see some. Saw me shoot one at 8 that he helped stalk and got in on a few more of mine over the next few years.

    Small game hunting at 9 and he shot some birds, hares and squirrels... got to pack a rifle at 11, got serious about shooting one at 12...killed one at 13 and two at 14. He goes with me about half the time now and has been in on something like 15 or 16 big game animals. He's never expressed any emotional distress about the whole process- it's food. He's focused on making clean shots and limiting suffering. He's passed at least half a dozen I'd have hammered without a second thought- I don't say anything, it's not a habit I'm keen on breaking.

    Probably the most important thing is you let your kids make the decision on when they shoot something. I've know a couple of dads who got pushy about Jr. taking one for bragging rights or something....I'm not so keen on that. The other thing is that I think it's related to how much time they spend outdoors doing other stuff...a kid going from urban X-box to shooting a big game animal is probably less prepared emotionally than a kid who grew up outside and saw a lot of hunting from a young age in his family- by the time they get around to shooting one, they're well acquainted with what is about to happen.
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    Started my kids young and really enjoyed watching them accomplish things in the field that some adults struggle with. My oldest daughter shot her first moose at 10, then the next year she got her first caribou. My youngest will be 10 in December, and I'll be putting her in for a few permits as well. Their cousins have both shot moose, one was 11 and the other 12. I don't see anything wrong with starting them young, but you have to take the time and have the patience to work with them on their level and at their speed. It also really helps to have animals willing to cooperate too!
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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    My sister, the oldest, went on her first moose hunt, canoe-in, at age three weeks.....the rest of us siblings pretty much followed suit in a similar fashion. Her youngest boy, age 14, took a deer with his bow this year.... he can do a bull elk squeal that'll make your hair stand on end! Au natural, no call or nothin'. My girls, age 8 and 5, are after me constantly to take them to moose camp...unfortunately this year school, work, and my little one getting bronchitis made it unfeasible. Last year my oldest's teacher had to tell her, "You've already written about moose camp twice for your writing project, you need to pick a new subject", lol...her first trip out there was at age 11months, ten miles on a wheeler in a baby bjorn carrier. They also bonk salmon and halibut with equal enthusiasm! They are pretty girly girls and absolutely adore animals but they have never expressed any reservations about hunting and fishing, for which I'm grateful. Hugely looking forward to their first big game harvests!
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    I think when the question is "big game hunting" there need to be some clarifiers to what is meant by "hunting." I'd define hunting as a great deal more involved than "shooting" or "killing" and can't fathom awaiting a 10th birthday to start; though there are probably youngsters that need that many years to achieve sufficient maturity.

    My daughter has been "hunting" since the first hunting season proceeding her birth. She has yet to fire her first firearm, but that hasn't kept her out of the field and she quite literally begs to go "hunting", in particular "brown bear hunting", with her daddy and that sounds about right to me. Right at a month after her third birthday she was along when we killed a moose. It poured rain the entire time and she was patient and helpful (at least as helpful as a 3 year old can be) throughout the butchering and packing. It rained and then it poured. It rained a bit more and then drizzled the rest of the day. She was soaked, exhausted and thrilled. While she didn't "shoot" or "kill" that moose, if you ask her it is her moose and she believes she hunted as much as anyone else that trip. I'll do nothing to curtail that opinion and while it'll be several years before she is able to "shoot" or "kill" her hunting will not suffer for it, nor shall it wait.



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    Even though we live in Iowa our main staple has always been venison. My 4 kids grew up eating deer, squirrel, pheasants and cotton tail rabbits. My wife can cook wild game like none other. I would clean the game and my wife helped package it. My kids knew that if I shot a big daddy squirrel that mom would write "squirrel-crock-pot" on the freezer paper. Hunting meant food and food meant hunting. When my oldest daughter was 8 she was a miss priss and a girly girl. She loved to help mom in the kitchen but did not like stick tights, cockle-burs or those big black and yellow garden spiders that are everywhere in Iowa. She could tip over the little green army guys all day long with her bb gun but wanted to leave the hunting to dad. Number 2 daughter loved to go cut wood with dad and knew how to "rick" firewood so that the stack would not fall over. She always wanted to build the fire in the wood stove and she knew which wood lasted a long time on cold nights and which wood was for just taking the chill off in the fall. She love to shoot her muzzleloader but when at 12 and on her first hunt with gun in hand she could not do it. She started crying and handed me the gun and said dad you kill them and I will help mom cook them. I whispered to her that her name was on the tag and that if we were going to take a deer home that she was going to have to shoot it. She cried even harder so I told her it was ok and that I had plenty of tags and we would not go hungry if she couldn't shoot that young doe with the long eye lashes. She is the softest hearted of my 4 kids. She is now a a business executive working long hours and with her husband raising 2 kids of her own. Daughter number three was the black sheep and wasn't ready to handle a gun until after married.....at least that is what I tell her. She is a fitness nut and would rather run than drive but because her friend got raped on the same streets she runs on she has a legal 38 in the pouch on her waistband. Number 4 was my only boy. He killed his first deer with a muzzleloader at 10, Killed his first buck with a 70 lb bow at 14 and has never looked back. Last weekend he shot his limit of pheasants in the Dakotas and this weekend he will be bow hunting the whitetail rut with me in Iowa.

    The one thing that I know is that not all kids want to hunt and if they don't then you can't force the desire upon them. The good news is that things change or can change, daughter number two who could not drop the hammer on that doe has asked me for another try. I told her on the way home that morning when she was just a tike. Daddy will never make you kill an animal but if you ever decide that you want to try again I will be glad to take you to my very best stand. Plans are under way and she is now 32.

    I live in an area that is high in deer population. The farmers get extra tags to shoot does in an effort to keep the numbers in tact. I have killed 4 deer so far and my kids bring coolers home everytime they come. However they have the ability to hunt but choose not to....all but my son. I have some old retired hunters who hunted all of their lives but no longer can do it. They would if they could and I make sure that they get venison before my own kids get any. It's a matter of choice. They would hunt if they could but can't. My girls/husbands could hunt if they wanted to put it ahead of sports, golf and weight lifting but they choose not too. I often wonder if I should have been more forceful with the girls and hunting??? Have I spoiled them as they get all of the produce that comes from hunting without any of the work? Should we make kids hunt like we do with the rest of their chores? I don't know!

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    My first deer was at 13. Sure wanted to do it sooner. I think part of the reason my dad waited till 12 or so, was there were so many kids. We took in foster kids, and all my cousins were from large families. There was no shortage of young boys wanting to hit the deer trails.
    O.K. so what gun did you start with? It was all lever guns at our house. Took my 1st deer with a Winchester 94 Carbine in .25-35. Lots of others with a .32 Special. Heck, I took a 9.5 Brown Bear with a Winchester 71 in .348
    My oldest shot his first moose, a forked horn, with a Winchester Trapper in .30-30. Nice shot about 80 yards from a kneeling position, right to the boiler house.
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    Personally it's all about gun safety. If a kid shows that they are very safe with a gun then, and only then, are they allowed to be out in the field to hunt with others. At whatever age that happens, is when it happens....
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    I dragged my girls along as soon as I felt they were safe in the woods with me. Bear baiting is an excellent beginning to a young hunters life. You can teach so much sitting there in the tree with them. My girls shot their first bears at age 9 and 10 and it's been on ever since. In fact since they started pulling the trigger, I havn't shot a big game animal in 8 or 9 years. Always give them the shot. Now they are 16 and 20 and putting in for their own permits. I'm very proud of what I have taught them..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Taking a life is no small thing, though I suppose that could apply to small game hunting just as much as larger game.
    Why does it need to be looked at as "taking a life"? Providing for the family is what hunting is about. If a kid grows up around consumptive harvest of wildlife the "emotions" of death shouldn't be a problem. Buying meat in the store contributes to "taking a life" just as much as pulling the trigger.
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Why does it need to be looked at as "taking a life"? Providing for the family is what hunting is about. If a kid grows up around consumptive harvest of wildlife the "emotions" of death shouldn't be a problem. Buying meat in the store contributes to "taking a life" just as much as pulling the trigger.
    It's not that the emotions of death are a problem, but I do think they are real. Yes, hunting is about providing food for the family. While my boys haven't taken an animal yet, they have been a part of butchering many. We talk about what we're eating regularly at meal time, so there's no doubt they see the connection. Even so, animals are more than a big sack of meat covered in fur. I don't overstate such when I'm out with a young hunter, but it's worth being aware of in a kid's development - or at least that has been my experience.

    I've had a great time introducing my nephews to hunting, and in my experience it was best done step by step over the course of a few years as they grow older.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I think when the question is "big game hunting" there need to be some clarifiers to what is meant by "hunting." I'd define hunting as a great deal more involved than "shooting" or "killing"
    I agree completely, my two youngest sons are 3 and 6 and they have been "hunting" with me for a while now. I will allow them to carry a rifle and shoot once I am confident they can safely do so.

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    As far as 'taking a life' the actual taking of the animal is not the best part of hunting IMO. I always take a few moments to let it all sink in after I have killed something. Respect for the animal, I guess.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    It's not that the emotions of death are a problem, but I do think they are real. Yes, hunting is about providing food for the family. While my boys haven't taken an animal yet, they have been a part of butchering many. We talk about what we're eating regularly at meal time, so there's no doubt they see the connection. Even so, animals are more than a big sack of meat covered in fur. I don't overstate such when I'm out with a young hunter, but it's worth being aware of in a kid's development - or at least that has been my experience.

    I've had a great time introducing my nephews to hunting, and in my experience it was best done step by step over the course of a few years as they grow older.
    Emotions of death can be a problem though and because it doesn't bother me any more doesn't mean that a kid should take it lightly. By not bothering me any more does not mean that I am not grateful for the harvest because I am. My daughter just did not want to turn that pretty young doe into a dead doe. My daughter had never had to go hungry either or she would have seen it differently and it was me that saw to it that she didn't go hungry so I did see it differently. But you are right Brian there is a respect for the animal and a need to overcome that respect for the sake of making it food and kids need to be taught that balance.......something that I failed at!

    I was hunting and fishing by 10 years of age and on my own when 12. A single shot 514 Remington and a single shot 410 shotgun made by Luthe Hardware Co. Des Moines Iowa. I can remember my dad coming home from working in the foundry at The Oliver Tractor Factory and walking into the house to fried squirrel and biscuits and gravy. I can remember how proud I felt when he made a big deal about it. Which was often.

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    This is a great thread. My son is 5, and i cant wait until he can tag along in a full capacity. i bought him a 17 for his first Christmas (slightly premature). We are working on gun safety now with a red ryder single cock BB gun. He started tagging along with me moose hunting this year, and has been around us cutting/ prcessing every year of his life. Here is my question for you fathers a few years ahead..... Where do you find quality gear for you children 5, 6, 7 years old. It seems like everything i can find is not what i could call "quality". or it is too big for a 5 year old to wear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlak2fl View Post
    Where do you find quality gear for you children 5, 6, 7 years old. It seems like everything i can find is not what i could call "quality". or it is too big for a 5 year old to wear.
    Some of ours has come from REI, a little bit from B&J, but in the future I'm going to be looking pretty hard at the stuff that forum sponsor Tuff Kids Outdoors is offering. I haven't used their stuff yet, but from what I know of Becky, she would know quality gear. Anyhow, it's worth a look.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlak2fl View Post
    Here is my question for you fathers a few years ahead..... Where do you find quality gear for you children 5, 6, 7 years old. It seems like everything i can find is not what i could call "quality". or it is too big for a 5 year old to wear.
    It's tough.No doubt about it. My son had some REI type gear- pretty decent given that kids blow through it pretty quick. Grundens makes kids size rain gear that works. His favorite was some stuff made by Browning...XPO or something like that. Waterproof, insulated and pretty warm. His last "kids" gear was some sitka in youth size...spendy but pretty nice (and caught on sale at Sportsmans). At 14 he's finally wearing a small mens size so it's getting better.

    For a kid it's mostly a collection of compromises...very little in the mountain hunting sort of stuff. Buying boots is abysmal- very few companies make decent kid's boots at all and they can't wear them long enough anyways. Unless you have 3 kids in a stair step- let em hunt in tennis shoes and bogs.

    I'd also think about dressing them warmer- Evan always seemed to have more layers on than me and got colder, faster. Kids just don't have the heat capacity an adult does.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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