At 2 years old, my daughter, Charleston, joined me for our first "hunt" together. You may be thinking how is that possible? Possibly, even considering it irresponsible.
Well, I’m hear to tell you it was uber successful and fun for both of us. In the below, I’ll give you the reasons why and some helpful tips to help you be successful bringing your young kids in the woods with you.
Our “hunt” was successful because we went out and did it. Yes, just the fact her and I spent time in the outdoors alone, I would consider it a success. In this day and age, kids as young as my daughter are on their parents phone or tablets, watching Frozen or some other movie, or spending largely most of their time indoors. We are guilty of all three.
Also, I considered our “hunt” a success because she was engaged for all but 10 minutes of the time. I wasn't even expecting that much interest. She spent majority of our time sitting in my lap looking out the blind at an empty field, asking where’s the deer, pointing out the birds and airplanes flying over, and even the super moon that was brightly shining that night.
During our conversations, I made sure to ask her often if she was having fun to keep her temperature on when to leave. I found myself being impressed with her ability to grasp the concept of whispering. She literally whispered the whole time we were out there. She even shh’d me twice (see video @ 2:10 mark http://bit.ly/2C5gWNS ). That was a moment I could do nothing but laugh.
If you are considering taking your young child out on a “hunt”, here are a few tips from our 1st hunting experience.
1. Don’t even remotely go in with expectations of hunting. The wind wasn’t right, it was unseasonably warm, and she couldn’t stop from coughing every 30 seconds. I could care less that every deer in the woods knew we were there. Lastly, it's worth mentioning, that I did bring a gun for familiarity purposes, but I left it unloaded the entire time. For me, it was about spending quality time with her in the outdoors.
2. Keep it short. We spent an hour and 15 minutes out there. It was the quickest 75 minutes I’ve ever had with her.
3. Try to build up her interest beforehand. If you can get him/her excited about seeing deer, squirrels, birds, etc. before the hunt, that will help with her interest in looking for deer or other critters. For example, we have deer in our neighborhood, so her and I will go walk through looking for them several times a week. Once we spot them, we will watch and observe them for 15-20 min at a time. That is where I’d practice whispering with her. We even attempted a couple mock stalks on them. We did this for several months before this "hunt". During the "hunt," I was impressed how naturally her mind associated that deer and whispering go together. Amazing what a 2 year old's brain can process!
Overall, we had a blast. I was going to wait until 3 years old, but with her interest in deer and other critters, the outdoors at age 2, and her level of maturity, I felt I had nothing to lose by taking her. Thankfully, I have another priceless memory made with Charleston.
Thanks for reading.