The Big Question As many who follow me know I am not just a hunter and stalker every day of the week but I am a father of 4 lovely children, 3 sons 1 amazing daughter. Often discussions come up on social media in regards to, When is the right time to teach someone the skill of hunting? The answer to that age-old question in a modern world is simple, Answer 1: When the law allows you too. Each region of the world has its own laws on what age a child is allowed to take an animal’s life or when they are able to use a firearm legally. In the UK a child has to be the age of 14 before he is allowed to shoot a firearm, but, there is no age limit on when you can start teaching a child the ethics, rules, safety and field-crafts of hunting. Most of the time the theory is more important than the practice and there is nothing stopping you from taking your child hunting with you and teaching them everything you know before they are old enough to hold and shoot a firearms. Which leads you to answer 2. In the U.S this age restriction does not apply so answer 2 becomes more prevalent. and Answer 2: When you feel that person is ready, NOT BEFORE. To me this is the most important answer to the big question. Everyone matures differently, you as a person may have grown up with firearms and maybe hunted yourself.
I myself shot my first rabbit before the legal age when I used 12lb springer air rifles and collected them, I then graduated to shooting my first deer when I was 15-16 and I was 14 when I performed my first gralloch, but, my children are not me and they are growing up in a different world. When I was young there was no online gaming or affordable internet, mobile phones etc. and growing up in the country all I could do was shoot and fish and enjoy the outdoors and public perception was a little different. I believe someone (not just a child, adults too) should have the maturity and the understanding of the consequences of hunting before being allowed to perform their first kill. The should be-able to understand the need for what they are doing and should only do it if they truly want to and not because of some adult peer pressure which happens from time to time. Taking a life is no light subject whether it is a rabbit or deer it needs to be done cleanly and humanely and with respect. If a child or person is not ready to do that then they have no place to be behind the trigger. This decision has to be down to the individual circumstance, some kids may never be ready to hunt and you as a hunting parent have to understand this. (Bare in mind this is my own opinion.) For me it has taken a long time to have the trust to allow my oldest to shoot, he has been on many hunts with me and he knows the main ins and out of firearms safety so it is not lack of training that had held me back from him performing a hunt it has always been his maturity. It is an important thing for a “Hunting Parent” for their child to enjoy the freedom of what they do, so they are able to pass on the knowledge and skills that were passed to us. What about if you’re an Adult that wants to get into Shooting? This reasoning goes for adults also, if you are wanting to take up hunting as a hobby , maybe for the fitness or just being outdoors or because you fancy trying something different, first and foremost make sure your ready. The best way for an adult to learn is to get involved. Before taking up a rifle and going through the long process of obtaining a firearms certificate or shotgun certificate make sure you know what you’re getting into. Go a long with guys who hunt and let them show you what it is all about. Then maybe after a while go for a paid stalk at a sporting estate and get some firearms experience under supervision of a professional stalker. A Learning Process There is so much everyone can learn in regards to hunting, but, arguably a child can soak up more information in the shortest period of time so it is very important that what you are teaching that child has to be spot on, factual and fun but also showing the seriousness of what they are doing. Remember the only way for hunting to be there in the future is for us to do it right and it is our children that are going to carry it on after us. Hunting gives a lot back to everyone involved but, I feel, we have to give the traditions and the practice the respect it deserves so the teaching of our young should be very important. In the end it is the future of our sport, livelihood and way of life that is in the balance in an ever-changing world.