How to, and Why - Take your kid hunting!

How to, and Why - Take your kid hunting!

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Teach your kids to Hunt

Oliver setting up his own decoys


I have spent my whole life enjoying the outdoors, hunting and fishing. Its not just an interest for me, it’s a passion and a lifestyle that has had profound effects on how I see myself and how I steward my own responsibilities in life. My father taught me to hunt in the icy cold swamps and cornfields of northwest Minnesota.
The hunting experiences from that era of my life sparked a fire and desire to be in nature as often as possible and the flame has never diminished. The humility learned, by taking a life, to provide life for yourself and your family, is typically only truly understood by farmers, ranchers, fisherman and hunters. In my experience, the older a person is the more difficult this experience can be. The vulnerability of this experience can be a shock, in my opinion because of the social constructs that society creates around meat in the grocery store. The marketing surrounding meat has been successful in removing the uncomfortable stigma of taking life, to give life. The more ingrained this subconscious perspective of “grocery store meat” is, the more difficult it is when this person faces the truth of what feeding yourself truly requires.
Hallie Hunting at 4
When you teach a kid to hunt, fish, farm or ranch, they will grow up with a cheat code to the type of delusional marketing that the majority of society is susceptible to. I am raising my kids to hunt because it gives them the tools to not depend on complacency for comfort, rather by careful consideration and deciding for themself the work and the cost of stewarding life, to give life. I recognized the benefits of learning this lesson at a young age because the people I encountered in life who hadn’t, approached stewardship and vulnerability from a much different place. Often a place which depended less on recognizing reality, and regarded vulnerability as being avoidable and uncomfortable. When you teach a kid to hunt, they have the opportunity to learn to find comfort in the reality and the vulnerability of life. Hunting gives children functional and foundational tools that effect their understanding of work ethic, self-sufficiency and their own true capabilities.

Hunting isn’t for everyone!

   Hunting isn’t for everyone; I would never encourage forcing your kids to hunt or to do something that might be traumatic to them. The beneficial lessons, gleaned from hunting could be similarly learned from gardening, farming, ranching or fishing. Like anything in life, the lessons can only be learned if the person doing the learning, wants to learn. Every time I take my kids hunting, I make sure to ask them if they really want to hunt. When they do choose to come with me, the whole hunt becomes about teaching first, and the hunt itself second.

Its About the lessons not the hunt!

 Hallie and Haydee after a hunt
Hallie was four years old when she first asked for me to take her duck hunting. I was stoked and of course I said yes to my little girl! After she had went to bed, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what to bring for her. When I was a kid, my parents just stuffed me in warm clothes and highly visible clothes for deer hunting. I put out warm clothes for her that were dull enough to not flair ducks. I grabbed hot hands and packed some water bottles in my hunting bag. The next morning, she was awake and ready to go, beaming with excitement! I dressed her snug as a bug and we left the house. We stopped at a gas station to get donuts, as a treat for the hunt. The spot was a half mile hike from where we parked. That hike gave me a first glimpse of how much work bringing a kid hunting is haha. Sweating, huffing and puffing with my decoys, hunting bag, camp stool and daughter on my back. I wish I could say the whole hunt was pleasant, but it wasn’t.
heading to the blind
I hadn’t, yet considered the right gear to bring to accommodate my kid while hunting. I knew how to be a good dad and keep my kid safe, and I knew that this was going to be a learning experience. I hadn’t however, realized what that fully entailed.
I had to set up further inland than usual, to make sure my daughter would be safe, and I made sure to keep her on my shoulders while setting up the decoys. She loved the decoys and asked so many good questions. The extracurricular aspects of the hunt resulted in us getting positioned in our make shift blind late, just as shoot time started. The ducks were flying and I instructed Hallie to sit still and to not make sudden movements. Before long, my kid did what all kids do, she became restless and fidgety. I would have to regularly instruct her to sit still, to quit dancing or jumping in the puddles. I wish I could go back in time, to instruct myself that this was no longer a hunting trip. I was too green with taking my kid hunting, but I had been taking her fishing since she was two. I should have had a better understanding of how to handle that first hunt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t realizing that by being critical of my kid, and by trying to make the trip about hunting (even a little), I wasn’t creating the right environment for my little girl to learn. After about 20 minutes of hunting, she became too restless to hunt and asked for me to take her home, I begrudgingly agreed.
Pitblind Hunting

They are watching everything.

I put Hallie on my back and picked up the two dozen decoys, grabbed the rest of the gear and started the half mile hike to the rig. Noticing I was sweating pretty good, my four-year-old daughter asked if I would like her to walk alongside me instead? “I can help carry something too dad” she said to me. I set her down laughing and handed her my call lanyard, she immediately began mimicking a hale call. She had played with my calls lots of times and witnessed me practicing, she learned the cadence from watching and learning. Her sweetness was refreshing and a punch to the gut. I immediately recognized how impatient I had been during parts of the hunt. It was at that moment, that the most important requirement for teaching your kids how to hunt became clear to me. The most important thing is to remember is that they are the most important thing, at every moment during the hunt. Its not about shooting ducks, its not about being quiet. It’s about making the experience about teaching them the why and the how. They can only ever learn to love something that is taught in a safe and loving environment. They are always watching us as parents, they will always learn with a foundation set on our actions and reactions, whether good or bad. The key will always be to have the right goal in mind before the adventure. My second hunt with Hallie was much more successful because I recognized this lesson, and as a result my interactions and reactions were naturally more patient and loving. Interactions and reactions stem from intent, with right intent you get the right interactions and reactions.
 Oliver hunting at 4
The Right Gear for the right job
Ok so you’ve decided to take your kid hunting and you have the right intent to make it about teaching them something that you love! That’s the most important step, next step is making sure you have the right tools to make this possible. I’ve spent years hunting with my kids from the ages of four to nine and I have encountered plenty of challenges and successes that specifically came down to me either using the right gear or not. Below I’ve compiled a list of products that I’ve found, to make your hunt more manageable and successful!


Kids Waders

hallie in waders

        I’ve spent countless hunts carrying Hallie and Oliver whenever we encountered water. Carrying your kids plus fifty to eighty pounds of gear is brutal, even more so on successful hunts, with full game straps of birds! I avoided buying Hallie waders for a few years under the assumption that they were expensive. I’m not opposed to expensive gear that I may use for years, but kids grow out of things too fast. I eventually was forced to look at getting some for Hallie because of wanting to take her and Oliver hunting together, and she was finally tall enough to help retrieve ducks. I was pleased to find out that kid waders range from basic cheap pvc waders, to expensive neoprene ones, that are much warmer. I found some $30 waders and ordered a pair for each of my kids. I soon found that they made hunting with the kids so much easier and it provided a fun experience for them. My kids use any excuse to wear their waders, from playing in the rain to cleaning the guinea hen coop. Waders keep your kids dry and safe on any kind of hunt, and the ones I bought are surprisingly durable. I have the link to the brand of waders my kids use below.

Call Lanyard

Oliver wearing call lanyard

        Calling ducks, turkeys or any animal is like playing an instrument. The younger you are when you start, the better the results.  Kids can also be hard on calls if you let them play with them a lot. If they have their own call lanyard with one or two calls, they can practice anytime they want. They also can practice calling, while you’re calling during a hunt. This gives them the opportunity to learn cause and effect. Don’t overwhelm them with too many calls.
  • For duck hunting give them a hen mallard call and a 3 in 1 whistle.
  • Turkey hunting start them off with a yelp box.
  • Big game hunting in the rut, a grunt call or antler sheds for rattling.
  • No matter what you’re hunting for, the key is to start them on a basic call so they can learn and succeed. Kids are fickle and so don’t give them some advanced diaphragm call or a specialty wood duck call that requires skill to use, and are only used once and while.

Portable Heater

Mr. heater in the blind

    Hunting is fun, but being outside in the elements can become cold pretty fast for your little human. There are lots of options from hot hands to heated clothing when your mobile. In my experience kids don’t get cold when their mobile, its when they have to be still. I have a portable propane heater that’s rated for indoor use that can turn any deer stand or duck blind into a cozy environment for your kid and yourself. Its another piece a of gear to trek around, and maybe too luxurious to bring along hunting by yourself, but its completely worth it if you are bringing kids along!

Durable Pack for you and your kids


    You need to have a quality pack for hunting in general, but you definitely need a durable one when hunting with kids. I have broken two expensive name brand bags while taking kids hunting. Both packs were broken because of carrying my kids on the top of the pack. I do a lot of public hunting and it requires quite a hike sometimes, and sometimes in deeper water or thick brush. My habit is to throw my kid on the top of my pack. It’s more comfortable than putting them on my shoulder but it requires a good durable pack. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just make sure its durable.
    You need to give your kid a pack too, whether small or big, them having their own pack means they can help carry things like water bottles and snacks. It also makes them feel useful and gets them used to carrying gear, which if they waterfowl hunt wont ever stop.

Camo Face Paint

 hunting morning with hallie

        Not all hunting requires camo face paint, but I would recommend (even if it’s not necessary) getting your kid their own face paint. It adds to the aesthetic for them and if you are duck hunting or turkey hunting, it saves you having to do it for them before shoot time. I guarantee if they have their own face paint or fire cork, that they will probably do it themself1 before you even get in the truck to head out.
No matter the gear or the type of hunting, remember its about the experience. Its not about success or failure, hard work or miserable conditions. It’s about showing your kids a passion and a honed craft, that teaches independence and true stewardship. It’s about growing, learning, loving and bonding together. Get out their and hunt with your kids!


Proverbs 20:5 ESV

The purpose in a mans heart is like a deep water, but a man of

understanding will draw it out.




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