Tips on how to create positive hunting experiences for kids from Idaho Fish and Game

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BOISE, Idaho — It may be harder to get kids into hunting these days with sports, friends and video games competing for their attention. For parents who want to spark an interest in hunting, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has some tips on how to start it.

For starters, the department said to start young and let them participate in the adventure. They added that kids as young as four or five can contribute as well. One way to get them interested is buying them child-sized binoculars and have them look for animals and signs of game.

The department said parents can get kids a compass and let them be the guide. Also, let them take pictures of their favorite parts of the hunt.

They said to make hunting more about the experience than harvesting an animal. This can be done by taking breaks and enjoying the beauty of nature. Don’t forget to pack lots of snacks and water.

Aside from what they can do during the hunt, parents can take their kids to hunter education and make sure they understand the importance of it.

When it comes to firearms, the department said to make sure to invest in appropriate clothing, safety equipment and a gun that fits them. They said a properly sized gun helps avoid shaking arms and sore shoulders and increases control and safe handling. Hunting should be injury-free.

The department said to let kids practice at the firing range by showing them how a gun works. It’s important to have them feel comfortable when they shoot it.

As for the kind of hunt, the department said big game hunting would be too intimidating for beginners. Instead, focus on smaller game such as birds. Also, youth-only hunts are often at the beginning of the season, when game is less likely to startle. You can do small game hunts for young hunters here.

When taking a first-time hunter out, the department said to leave the gun at home. It’s to make the experience about the kids and devout attention to help them become safe and attentive in the field.

When showing hunting to beginners, the department said to be positive and encouraging. Help them recall what makes a shot safe or unsafe, and don’t press them to take a shot.

Lastly, if tiredness, frustration and lack of interest start to show, the department said to end the hunt before the whining starts. They added to try to end on a positive note, even if nothing got harvested. They said to help young hunters remember seeing wildlife and landscapes. Sharing favorite parts of the hunt would be worth doing too.

The department said just spending time together outdoors can make a day special.