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What age to start hunting

901 Views 40 Replies 35 Participants Last post by  Will Beararms
Just curious what age everyone thinks it’s appropriate to take your kids hunting, either them just to watch or do the shooting? My son is 6 and not sure when to get him into hunting and actually shooting. Yesterday I was going and he really wanted to go so I let him tag along. Of course he was rather anxious/bored for the first couple of hours sitting there. He got excited once the deer started moving, but then he was moving too much and had a doe I was going to shoot see us and ran off. Still a success with him seeing deer even though I didn’t shoot one.

Of course, to even think about letting him hunt, need to teach him to shoot and all the safety aspects of it. Thought about getting him a BB gun for Christmas and learn the safety and shooting stuff before moving to a 22 then progressing from there as I see fit. What are you alls thoughts?
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A lot of people seem to use the 10-12 years old average. Depends on kid! And you need to check local laws.

I first went hunting with my son when he was 15. We hunted out of a friend's hunting cabin in Vermont. Similar to what TBO posted, I had my 30-30 with me, but the majority of the time it was slung over my shoulder - I wanted son to get first shot. Oh, and my son was using a Yugoslavian Mauser 8mm! We never got a deer (still haven't... :( ), but it was fun and we had a few exciting close calls.

I suggest to plan on shortened hunts when you are with a young'un. May want to think about a "luxury" blind, maybe even with a portable propane heater. Also, have the kid "hunt" with a camera (just a smart phone will do fine), have him take pictures of animals while you wait. When the kid really starts getting fidgety, you may want to pack it in for the day... or go back for lunch, and plan to return for a short afternoon hunt.

Make it fun and interesting, and don't plan on getting a deer. That will just be a bonus if it happens.
 

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Daddy had me shooting when I was 9.

Once it conforms to the laws in your locale, the when should be based on the maturity, level of responsibility and attitude of the individual kid. They mature at very different rates, it's not chronological only.
I agree with this^^^^. Children are all different and you can't just pick an arbitrary age. I know some adults who aren't responsible enough to handle firearms.
 

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There's the maturity thing. Then there's the physical thing. Most children and many women cannot physically hold a rifle or shotgun properly unless its been sized for them, This results In both excess felt recoil and not being able to hit what you are looking at. Some idiots think its funny to watch a kid or woman get knocked in the face with a scope or on their ass with a shotgun....see if they still want to go out after that! You take a kid hunting when they are physically capable of holding a firearm PROPERLY and know the battery of arms for the firearm and how to load, unload, and make it safe. Don't put the cart before the horse. Most states also require a hunter safety course for youth hunters.

My daughter has been hunting ducks and deer with me since she was 8 or 9... Used a youth model Benelli Montefeltro 20 gauge which is light enough she could hold and swing it properly. And the length of pull was short enough she could get a proper mount on the thing. She's 19 now and out in the deer blind with her boyfriend today!

If you don't know if the child is ready or not its probably because you don't know what you are doing yourself. So find a friend or relative who can help.
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Some
Kids are ready sooner than others. When the kid can shoot a big enough gun at paper reliably, he can hunt. For young kids, shorter hunts with snacks is best. Have a video game or something, they bore easily. And protect their ears, even in the deer stand!!
 

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started shooting when I was 6 and hunting when I was 12. ruger revolver in .22 was the what we all started with! my first hunting rifle was an old Springfield 30-06 bolt action, that heavy thing was a tac driver
 

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Started walking fields with a Daisy Red Ryder at about 7, upgraded to a Crossman 760 at 10 and a Remington 1100 LT-20 gauge at 12 after Hunter Safety. My first dove and pheasant were ground pounded with the 760 circa 1983...
 

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I was 9 years old and had been shooting well before that. Dad bought a Sears bolt action 410 shotgun for me and took the pellets out of a "heavy" field load of 410 bore birdshot and replaced it with three 00 buck pellets from a 12 guage shell.

I remember he and I going out to test this. He tacked a paper dinner plate to a pine tree, stepped off about 25 or 30 steps, and I shot it. The result was an almost perfect equilateral triangle of .33 cal holes well centered. Dad said "that's good enough," and that's what I hunted with that year.

That was 60 years ago. I quickly grew into a 12 guage Remington 870, but I won't forget my first "deer gun." Wish I still had it.

And Dad.
 

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My father may have been arrested for neglect in today's over protective society. I recall deer hunting on my own at 8 or 9. My grandson killed his first deer at 8, with his Dad in the stand. At 13 the kid can flat out shoot a rifle or a shotgun. I started my kids and grandkids slow, short deer hunts, plenty of fun in the stand, and snacks. Make the overall experience good and they will remember it fondly, game taken or not.
 

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By 6 I was hunting with my stepdad. For Christmas when I was 9, I got a Sears bolt action 410 shotgun. After that, a pocketful of shells and across the pasture I'd go hunting by myself.
My, things have changed.

My own sons started hunting about 12.
At seven (7) I was hunting squirrels with my father with a .22 fieldmaster. Shooting with the .22 rifle by eight (8) by myself. At 9-1/2 got a .410 savage single-shot bolt action Savage for Christmas. I quail hunted with my father in the woods, but not very successfully


At ten (10), I built shelves and a gun rack in my bedroom closet. All of the guns (and ammunition) in the house were in my room; cleaned and oiled.

At twelve (12) I got a 20 ga M37 Ithaca Featherweight for Christmas.

I still have all of those guns, and always will.

My great-grandson (at seven (7) ) “went” deer hunting last year - and “got” a doe (step-son shot her). He’s shooting pretty well (in controlled) conditions at eight (8). He knows the NRA rules, and won’t even point a toy gun at someone, or a pet (I attribute this to my step-son); he even tells others to never point a gun, even a toy, at someone.

Still, as responsible as he is, I can’t imagine letting him out on his own with a firearm (what was my father thinking when I was his age?).

The age to start hunting/shooting depends upon the child - but eight (8) or nine (9) is a pretty good age to start supervised for many children.
 

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I'm going to skip past the age thing and address one topic.

Hunting/fishing/etc, when you are taking a young one with, it's about them, period.

Not that your post had anything in it to state otherwise, just popped a memory bubble.

I grew up blessed with outdoor opportunities and experiences.

When, as a young man, I got the change to take some 6/7 year olds fishing for the 1st time, I made a good choice, and a bad choice.

I decided to take them to a bluegill (pan fish) lake, as they offer constant action (I didn't fish them, was a walleye/trout fisherman).

The bad choice? Beside running the boat motor, I also ran my own fishing line. Anyone who's ever fished a true bluegill lake knows the time between dropping a line and getting a bite is measured in breaths, not minutes. As I tried to tend to 2 kiddie lines (bait & release, pull fish in, unhook, re-bait...) and fighting to get to my rod (because as a serious fisherman, you always had your line in) I grew quite frustrated. Then I realized, Hey this is about them. I reeled my line in and enjoyed a fantastic afternoon.

Later when I took youth out for roughed grouse, white-tail deer, ducks, etc, I remembered this early lesson and never had a bad experience.

Heck, I let my #1 deer stand be used many times over the years by first time hunters, who more often than not took their first white-tail off my stand (a number of them being overseen by their grandfathers, the same folks who had mentored me).

just a thought
Great post. It is all about them, we have been there and done that.
 

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Just curious what age everyone thinks it’s appropriate to take your kids hunting, either them just to watch or do the shooting? My son is 6 and not sure when to get him into hunting and actually shooting. Yesterday I was going and he really wanted to go so I let him tag along. Of course he was rather anxious/bored for the first couple of hours sitting there. He got excited once the deer started moving, but then he was moving too much and had a doe I was going to shoot see us and ran off. Still a success with him seeing deer even though I didn’t shoot one.

Of course, to even think about letting him hunt, need to teach him to shoot and all the safety aspects of it. Thought about getting him a BB gun for Christmas and learn the safety and shooting stuff before moving to a 22 then progressing from there as I see fit. What are you alls thoughts?
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In my day, 10 or 12 was often the "coming of age." But it really comes down to the maturity of the child, their willingness to listen to instruction, the respect they have for the adult, the gun, the wildlife, the terrain. A child of 6 or 8 may not have the patience to even accompany the adult. It's a case-by-case thing.
 

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My dad started me out on a .22lr at 6 yrs old. Learned all the rules and everything I could about the operation of my Glenfield 25. Went squirrel hunting at 7 yrs old. I shot my first deer at 10 yrs old with a .243 Winchester. I started my sons out at 6 with a BB gun. Once they showed responsibility with it I moved them up to a single shot 22lr. Once proficient they were introduced to handguns shotguns and rifles. I too them out deer hunting at 10 yrs old and they only observed the whole process. At 12 yrs old they were mature enough to kill their first deer.

Now my brother on the other hand, he didn’t start hunting until he was 70 yrs old. Got his first one when he went out his first time. He loves it and is out hunting today.
 

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5 or 6 is about right. I remember my nephew, at that age, dragging his turkey to the check station with its legs over his shoulders and the head dragging the ground behind him. His sister was also hunting by about 6 or so. When he was 8 or 9 he was saving up his money for a Benelli shotgun.
 

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i've noticed people talking some young ages for hunting, less than 12 which is as far as i know, the legal age to get a hunting license in my State. i was ready to hunt by 10 years old but had to wait until i was 12, sure wish i could have "legally" hunted earlier back then.
In Kentucky, 12 is the age when you are required to have a license and when you can hunt alone. Below 12, you can hunt all you want without a license.
 
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Depends on the child. I learned to shoot a .22 rifle at scout camp, first hunted years later at 16. On the other hand…

A childhood friend got his own .22 single-shot Winchester boy’s rifle at age 8. He was hunting squirrels and rabbits unsupervised at 10 using .22 shorts. It was little louder than a pellet rifle.
 

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My oldest got his first deer at 9, my middle son his first at 7, and my daughter got her first one at 8. I started taking her with me to sit and watch the animals when she was 4. I took a rifle in case a good one came in when she was with me, but we never killed one then as she always had us leave before dusk, because "it got scary". We made some good memories and when I let her carry a rifle at 8 years old, her first deer was a 6 point. When they are really young it's about spending time with them and letting them enjoy themselves learning the ropes. Above all, be patient with them.

I went squirrel hunting with my grandfather and father when I was 6 and shot my first squirrel with a single shot .410. I loved that day and still remember it.

I went deer hunting with my dad when I was about 5 and he fussed at me because I was noisy or kept moving. I wasn't interested in deer hunting for years afterwards. I learned from that and was more patient with mine.
 

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I started at 9 and got my 1st deer at 13. My son started at 7 and got his 1st deer at 9. The 1st couple of years he didn't carry a gun, he just hung out and watched. He's now 17 and goes out on his own, calling me for a ride in the truck when he's got one down. We are lucky and have about 400 acres of private land to hunt.

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They are old enough to hunt when they can handle the guns intended to be use for the game they want to hunt, AND YOU TRUST them to handle and fire that weapon on the other side of the bush where YOU are sitting.
 
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