Getting (and Keeping) the youth involved: Passing on a timeless tradition

It is no surprise that hunting, particularly bowhunting, requires skill, patience, luck, and time. Most of today’s youth are accustomed to video games, their cell phones, and uninterrupted access to the internet. Hunting doesn’t provide that instant gratification they are used to. When a young man or woman expresses an interest in the outdoors they are venturing into an unfamiliar world outside of their social media accounts, Call of Duty Campaigns, and movies. They should be welcomed with nothing but positivity and encouragement.

I was there once. Nobody in my family hunted, and I really wanted to get into it. I ended up scouring hunting magazines and learning a bit from online forums but most of what I learned was based on trial and error in the woods.  

These are 5 tips I wish I knew when first getting started.

  1. Be wary of social networks. This is my personal soapbox. Rather than advice and encouragement social media has become a breeding ground for the part of hunting that I resent. The negativity. A picture of a young man smiling ear to ear standing behind a forkhorn buck has many comments below it saying “Would have been a nice buck in a couple years”,  “Should have let that one go…”, or “Some people have no self control”. These aren’t the kind of comments that someone looking to get introduced to hunting should be concerned about. Deer hunting is a challenge and the trophy is in the eye of the beholder. My first deer was a spike. I am more proud of that spike than any other deer I have harvested. If social media is your thing, consider joining traditional archery networks as these guys are very knowledgeable and in my personal experience, far less negative.
  2. Learn Shot placement from all angles. Nothing will put a damper on the desire to hunt more than wounding a deer. Knowing where a whitetail’s vitals are is critical to making an ethical shot. This includes knowing which shots to NOT take. Study deer anatomy from every angle, and keep a sharp eye out for that shoulder blade!
  3. Keep it simple. You are just getting started. Don’t feel pressured into buying a new Sitka suit or the newest name brand flagship bow. Just because it is available doesn’t mean you need it. Native Americans killed deer with primitive bows and sharp stones. Pick up a cheap bow (used or new) and shoot it until you feel confident. Keep it simple and keep it fun.
  4. Accept help. Getting started isn’t easy. There is a lot to know! Talk to a guy at a local proshop. Make sure your bow fits you and you are set up with arrows that are the right spine. Soak up constructive hunting knowledge and apply it to your future outings!
  5. Have Fun! After all, that’s what it’s all about! Hit the woods with some buddies, chase that big buck, but make sure you’re having fun doing it!


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