After harvesting a wild turkey last spring in our home state of Missouri, my now 7 year old daughter, Hailey, wants to try her hand at deer hunting. This blog series will detail our effort from pre to post-hunt along with a few tips for introducing newcomers to deer hunting.
"Can I wear my Elsa necklace?” Hailey asked with curiosity.
It was a simple question and the initial simple answer inside my head “no” would have been the wrong one. I quickly took Elsa’s advice and “let it go”.
I hesitated in fear the brightly colored and shiny necklace would warn an incoming deer. The necklace certainly didn’t blend in with our camo and blaze orange outfit, however, blending in was the last thing on Hailey’s mind.
The hunt I’m referring to was Hailey’s first deer hunting outing with me on the day after Christmas during the 2014 Missouri Alternative Methods season (muzzleloader). Hailey was 5 years old at the time and eagerly agreed to come with dad to check out what deer hunting was all about and maybe watch me harvest a deer. She has since accompanied me on several hunts and our list of needed equipment sometimes rivals that of a toy store. This fall will mark the first time she will be hunting with her own tag and I’m eager to help her with her journey to harvest a deer. That journey involves a number of preparatory steps. Equipment and gear can play a huge role in success; not only in the potential for a harvest, but the bigger potential for the participant to keep going hunting.
Mentoring a first time youth hunter this fall on a deer hunt? From an equipment and gear standpoint, here are a few items to consider:
• Keep comfort and fun at the top of your list. Here are some ideas:
a. Pack comfortable clothing and a seat. If hunting from a blind (great choice for beginners), folding chairs work well. Ensure clothing fits and matches the weather.
b. Food and drink (if you want to make it special, include a snack your budding hunter doesn’t get often but loves).
c. Portable heaters can make cold trips enjoyable instead of unbearable.
d. A notebook and pencil (drawing, writing, tic-tac-toe, etc.).
e. Binoculars and field guides.
f. Deer calls are excellent for newcomers and are a ton of fun to use. Let your budding hunter grunt every 15 minutes or so.
g. Every kid I have hunted with likes camo makeup, don’t leave home without HS Camo-Compac or Speed-Camo Face Makeup.
h. Use scent control to help increase success. It’s fun to spray down before and during the hunt. Cover scents are also cool for kids to engage in and understand the sensitively of a whitetails nose.
• Make sure you have necessary gear and you have prepared before the outing.
a. Firearm/ammunition and/or archery equipment (I will focus on range time in a future blog post).
b. Required permits and tags to hunt in your area.
c. Gear required by regulation (blaze orange, if you will be hunting with a firearm, for example).
d. Field dressing items.
As with any activity, hunting requires a certain amount of equipment and gear. Focus on necessary items that may help a newcomer succeed. In addition, keep comfort and fun at the forefront; your budding hunter will thank you.