Nothing makes me happier than to hear my two year old son, River, say “Mama, I want to hunt with you.” Or my nine year old daughter, Brooklyn, ask to go sit with me and watch as I hunt. The fact that my children show interest, and are eager to learn is gratifying to both my husband and myself. I dream of the day that both of my children harvest their first deer, or taking their picture with their first turkey. I often question, how young is too young?
As I scroll through my Facebook news feed I see such small children posing with their trophy deer. Some with once in a lifetime deer. I think to myself, how could this child have a full grasp of what it is that they are doing at such a young age? Even, how will that child feel when they aren’t successful at harvesting a deer of that size in the future?
In my opinion, it takes years of preparation to physically, mentally, and emotionally obtain the level of maturity necessary to harvest an animal. I want my children to understand that we hunt for food, and we don’t just kill for the sheer joy. I want them to have respect for the animal as it is God’s creature, and have the skill to make ethical shots. I also want it to be their decision to engage in the sport, and not just to satisfy my husband and myself.
Every time I kill an animal I feel a multitude of emotions that comes all at once; sadness, respect, joy, gratefulness, and admiration. I hope for my children to feel all of these things when they hunt.
I think it’s wonderful to start teaching children at a young age, and target practicing with a suitable gun or bow in a controlled environment. As each child matures at different rates, the “perfect” age can vary. However, at nine years old I don’t feel that my own daughter is ready to hunt for herself.
To conclude, I hope that more parents will take these thoughts in consideration and apply them to their own family hunts.