It’s a pivotal time for the sport of hunting, especially among America’s youth. Due to urbanization, endless activities for children, and the constant humming draw of electronics, kids are getting less exposure to the outdoors and showing even less interest in hunting.

Sadly, hunting has become a dying sport – and yet you can do something about it.

By taking a child hunting, you keep the sport alive and help them become a hunter you can be proud of – someone who is as writer Tim Ferris describes: “responsible, piercingly intelligent, ethical hunters who eat what they kill and who understand the subtleties of nature, including preserving the ecosystems around us.”

Hunting educates children on how to aim, shoot, and field dress an animal. It also arouses a lifelong passion for harvesting their own food, being in nature, and conserving the world around them. It’s one of the most beneficial hobbies to instill in a child because it develops courage, determination, and resilience unlike other activities children are regularly engaged in, and allows the little ones to feel special, just like mom and dad, when out in the woods in pursuit of game.

Whether or not you consider yourself a hunter, it’s more important than ever to foster the sport in America’s youth. If there are children in your life, no matter if they’re your own, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, or your neighbors, open them up to the world of hunting and see what happens.

Benefits of Teaching Children to Hunt

Keeping the sport of hunting alive isn’t the only reason to teach kids how to hunt. From being in the woods to building character to learning to fend for themselves, there are endless benefits to hunting.

Here are just a few.

  • Self-reliance: When children know how to hunt, they’ll always have a way to feed themselves, even if the unthinkable happens. They will not be stuck, relying on others to obtain food.
  • Food cycle: When kids learn to hunt, they gain an understanding of the food cycle. Without hunting, many children never connect the meat on their dinner plate to a living, breathing animal.
  • Love of the outdoors: If hunting does anything for a child, it instills a love of outdoors and a wonder at the majesty of nature. It teaches them to respect and appreciate the woods, water, and fields.
  • Rite of passage: For many hunting families, learning to hunt is a rite of passage. It may be the first time a child’s allowed at hunting camp during rifle season or that he has his own hunting gear. It’s an easy way to show a child you recognize he’s growing up and ready for more responsibility.
  • Conservationism: Although non-hunters don’t realize it, hunters by their nature are conservationists. By exposing children to hunting, they learn about the balance of animals in the space that hosts them and the idea of taking only what you need. This protects the land and ensures game remains for the future.
  • Cost savings: Although there’s a start-up cost and a yearly license fee, eating meat you harvest through hunting is an affordable way to eat healthier and save money.
  • Bonding: When you’re teaching children to hunt, it’s more about being together than hunting. You’re building memories, enjoying days spent together, and having experiences that can’t be found within city limits.
  • Health benefits: Hunting gets you outdoors and spending time in nature does great things for both your body and mind. It’s known to reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, and lead to more mindfulness.
  • Fitness and exercise: While you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy hunting, you do have to be relatively physically fit. You have to walk distances, climb through brush and up mountains, and drag large game with nothing but a rope. Getting children involved in hunting shows them the importance of staying fit and creates a fun way to exercise.
  • Food safety: When it comes to what’s in commercial meat, it’s scary. Artificial preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics just top the list. But when children provide themselves with meat from a hunting harvest, they’re getting nothing but naturally fed meat.
  • Life skills: Hunting is more than sport; it’s a lesson in life. It helps youth develop character strengths such as discipline, patience, confidence, and endurance. It also teaches children how to deal with disappointment and move on to try again.
  • Passing on traditions: For some, hunting has been passed down from parent to child for generations. There may be a family hunting cabin or trips out West, and for many, hunting’s rooted in family traditions.
  • Unplugged: In this high-tech world, children are constantly plugged in. At school, they read on tablets. At home, it’s virtual reality games, and at the mall, it’s smart phones and iPods. Hunting gives children an escape from electronics and having to be in the know every minute of every day. It allows kids to unplug and just be.

Continue reading Youth Hunting: A Smart Parent’s Guide to Safely Hunting with Kids at Ammo.com.