Our family after a duck hunt.
Last week i touched on my experience being raised outdoors. This week i’m writing about my experience on the other end, raising my own kids outdoors. Raising kids to love the outdoors is so important for the future of hunting, fishing, hiking, conservation, and other outdoors activities. It can be hard to know what activities are good for what age, and there isn’t any set in stone answer. It will vary from parent to parent and child to child. I think the top things to keep in mind when introducing kids to the outdoors is safety, safety, safety, and make it fun! Sometimes hunts will be ruined by a too noisy, can’t sit still child. Sometimes hikes will be a lot of standing around while your kid pokes sticks at the ground and you won’t cover as many miles as you might have liked to. Sometimes fish will be spooked by a kid splashing the water. It’s important for us as adults to take a breath and roll with it. Don’t make it too serious or you take the fun out of it! Today i’ll cover the three main things we do with our kids; hunt, fish, hike.
My son Silas on a hike with a stick that he had fun poking the snow with.
We do a lot of waterfowl hunting, and i feel it’s a great type of hunting for kids to start off with. Especially goose hunting in a field. With waterfowl hunting you don’t have to sit so still and quiet the whole time. Generally speaking you can hear or see the birds a ways out before they come in, so this gives a good amount of time to let the kids know its time to be still and quiet. In a ground blind or boat blind if they move a little, there is some forgiveness. They can return to moving and talking once a flock either comes in and the shooting is done, or the flock heads out. Another great kid friendly kind of hunting is squirrel hunting. For this it’s ideal for the kids to be able to walk on their own for most of the hunt, but we have taken our toddler along! Make sure they wear blaze orange! Ear protection is another thing to consider, ear plugs with a hat work well for us. My daughter was 4 and my son was 2 for their first times coming hunting. They both really enjoy it and i love that i get those memories with them like i had with my dad!
My kids ages 2 and 7 on a goose hunt, this was my son’s first hunt! Also pictured are my husband, brother, and uncle, i love that it’s a family event!
The family after a squirrel hunt.
Fishing is another great way to get the kids outdoors! Bluegill fishing from the shore is a favorite of ours. It’s nice because the kids can play in the dirt or sand if they need a break from fishing. Ice fishing is another favorite, especially since it gives us something to do during the cold winter months! We have a shanty and a heater so we stay pretty warm. We started taking both kids fishing fairly young. Our daughter was a bit older (around 3) just because of where we were at in life our son started when he was 1. We don’t go hard core, we try to keep it very laid back! When they get too bored with it we pack up and go home. When it stops being fun is a good time to end the outing!
Left photo is my dad helping Silas with his first fish, top right is Silas with a whitefish we caught ice fishing, bottom right is my daughter Kayden when she was 3 ice fishing.
Hiking is another thing we love to do with our kids. With this one i think the most important thing is to go the pace of your child. Don’t push to go too hard for too long or it won’t be enjoyable for them. Our toddler is very much is in his own little world on hikes, if we want to move we need to have him in a baby carrier or he will wander the same spot for an hour if we let him.
Silas in the tula on a hike.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you want to keep moving and they want to do what seem like meaningless things; however it’s how they learn and explore the woods! Let them draw in the dirt with sticks, look at mushrooms and moss (hey i like to do that too!), sit on down logs, pretend leaves are wings, whatever their little minds bring them to do within reason. When it’s time to continue on if they don’t want to come put them in the carrier and keep moving (sometimes this makes our toddler really mad…so my husband will give him a shoulder ride for a while). Another thing to remember is water and snacks!
The kids checking out a mushroom on a hike.
There are so many other things to enjoy outdoors with the kids! Our daughter Kayden is almost 8 and she is having fun learning how to shoot her bow that she got for Christmas and how to shoot our Air Rifle. We feel that for her this was a good age to start but for those things it will vary based on interest and maturity levels of each individual child. We plan to have her take hunters safety soon since she wants to learn more about shooting sports, safety is so important! Always have an adult there to assist!
Kayden shooting the air rifle and her bow.
If you want to get your kids involved in the outdoors, there isn’t a one size fits all way to do it. My best advice is to just get them out with you and if it’s getting to be too much for them (or you) then calmly pack up and head home. I cannot emphasize enough how much your attitude as the adult plays a role in how they feel about their experiences. If you are frustrated and angry they will pick up on it and it will make it less fun for all involved. Don’t sweat it if things don’t go as planned. Getting them out and having fun with you will build their passion for the outdoors and will build their bond with you! Have fun and get those kiddos outside!
Below i attached some other of our outdoor adventures!