Spring is an amazing time of year for hunters all over the country. Temps are finally warming up, the turkeys are gobbling and the ground is littered with treasures to be found both shed hunting and mushroom hunting.
With everything going on so many people forget that these simple things need to be shared. Sure it’s fun to hear birds gobbling from the roost and have a little alone time, but this is an incredible experience you can share with your kids and family as well.
So your first thought may be…my kids could never hold still for a turkey coming in with their incredible eyesight! An easy solution is to start by hunting out of a blind. This will allow kids to move around a lot more, play games, eat snacks, sleep, and stay comfortable. If the weather looks to be cold and it’s going to be an early morning, throw a heater in as well. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but the only goal should be about making this experience fun and exciting – not cold and boring.
We all know hunting is not always action-packed and exciting. There are down times, and that’s part of the learning experience. Take this time to explain a turkey’s behavior. How they roost at night, what kind of calls they make, the difference between a tom, jake and hen, and how to use various calls. They may not be an expert right away, but I can promise you if you allow them some time to practice and they’re enjoying it they will want to succeed and continue to improve. Box calls are probably the easiest to start with, then move to a slate call, and if they’re up for it give them their own mouth call if they’re old enough and you feel comfortable with it.
Depending on the legal age to hunt in your home state, they may have to simply sit back and watch mom or dad take the turkey, but I can’t stress the importance of taking the time to bring children along. If they’re too young to hunt, give them a camera and tell them to try and take pics when the birds come in. Use it as some quality time together, but don’t stay too long if the days seems to be dragging along. If they start getting bored, try a few other activities like shed hunting or mushroom hunting. You can still be looking and scouting for turkeys, but they will love getting out and looking for sheds and mushrooms. Again, teach the reasoning behind the antlers falling off, and the importance of making sure you have the correct type of mushroom. As a kid I would take some of the small sheds I found and make little ring or necklace holders for my dresser. Sure, it may not be a big deal to adults to find a small shed, but it can mean the world to a kid and might be exactly what’s needed to get them hooked on the outdoors.
Once you’re successful on a turkey hunt either with or without your kids along make sure to take the time to show them how to properly clean a turkey and where the meat is. Let them help if they’re up to it and most importantly when you get the bird cut up, let them help package and prepare it. They’ll feel like they’re a big help, plus you’re teaching them some valuable lessons about where their food comes from and how it makes it to the table.
In my opinion these are things that you can teach your child that will go so much further than learning in a classroom. When you have hands-on learning, the chance of remembering it will be so much higher plus children can be our number one advocate for hunting. If they have an amazing experience they will go to school, tell their friends and hopefully get even more kids involved in the outdoor world.