Keeping low to the ground, my 14-year-old daughter, Chelsea, followed her mom, matching her step for step. We’d spotted a black bear foraging along a trail 250 yards away, and both the cover and wind direction were ideal for a stalk. Approaching to within 80 yards of the bear, the two sat down, quietly extended the legs on a bipod and prepared for the shot as the bruin continued grazing toward them.
Having had plenty of pre-season trigger time, Chelsea was confident in her shooting abilities, and so were her mom and I. When the bear was 50 yards out, Chelsea locked her crosshairs on its chest and squeezed the trigger on her .243 Win. The bear rolled, got up, stumbled and collapsed after a few short steps. The smile on my daughter’s face said it all—she had just taken her first-ever big game animal.
Introducing kids to hunting—and getting them to stick with it—requires a careful approach. Your focus can’t be solely on shooting a limit or finding a trophy. You must also make it an enjoyable experience, all the while emphasizing ethical behaviour and the proper way to do things. That means prioritizing safety and explaining the reasons for hunting. It means teaching young proteges everything from how to secure landowner permission and locate game to how to take the shot and prepare their harvest for the table. Based on the experiences my wife, Heather, and I had introducing our two daughters to hunting, here’s how best you can get your kids in on the action, too.