It’s not much of a secret that lady hunters are the fastest growing demographic in the hunting community. Part of that is due to families starting their daughters, nieces, neighbor girls and grand daughters early and making it fun for them, with no pressure. My daughter is not an avid hunter, but she has hunted and has a javelina under her belt. As a matter of fact, she got her first javelina before I did! My friend Chris McCotter is well known in Arizona hunting circles for not only his hunting prowess, but his support of wildlife organizations. He is also well-known for getting his entire family into hunting, including his wife and his daughter Cidney. Recently, someone asked Chris for some tips on raising lady hunters. His advice was as thorough and well-presented as I have seen. With his permission, I have reprinted it here.
I’ll go on record that I have not pushed Cid to do any of this but instead asked if she wanted to and let her make the call. I probably learned more from her than she did from me over the past few months taking her hunting.
A few I have learned along the way, and in no particular order -
- Relax – if your spastic and losing it then chances are she will be too or worse yet she won’t want to be in that situation as she won’t want to see you like that again. Just ‘let it happen’ – don’t try and MAKE it happen. And if it doesn’t? So what and laugh it off.
- Don’t get frustrated when you’re sneaking around the hill putting on a stalk and you look back and she’s lagging behind picking flowers along the way. And better yet – expect a frustrated look from her when you tell her to throw them down and get ready to shoot a javelina. Think about it – She just worked her butt off collecting them and you’re telling her to treat them like trash. Big picture dad, look at the big picture.
- Invest in one of these – Click Here. Store in your hunting rig and never forget it and you will be the greatest dad in the world.
- Never let a question she has go unanswered and no question is stupid as you’ll find they are ALL building blocks to future questions and they need to have answered.
- Being a great shot at the range bench doesn’t mean jack when it’s in the field on live game (this is true of most adults too) but if you can provide life like targets of the animal she’s hunting use them after the gun is dialed in and they have the basics down.
- Surf the internet and download or print off live photos of the animals she’s hunting. In all different positions. You’re looking for shot and no shoot scenarios. Like I said, print off or store on your smart phone as pics in a specific folder. Weeks leading up to the hunt review yes and no shots. Then the night before going out hunting laying there in the sleeping bag next to her with your headlamps on or lantern light review those pics again.
- Never underestimate the leg power a little kid has. They aren’t lugging your body weight up the mountain and it will surprise you. But don’t walk them to death either. If they want a pack make it ultra light carry your gear and theirs and shop for a kids pack if you can. There are cheap ones out there if you plan well ahead of the hunt you’ll find them. I bought my kids packs for $20-$25 each.
- If your kid is going to carry a pack, inspect it twice a day for items they may have added. A 10lb rock lugged 1.5 miles back to the truck cuz it was ‘pretty’ will explain why she’s so tired and can’t make the trek be one that could have been avoided.
- Camo is not mandatory hunting attire and any hello kitty attire she wants to wear is completely acceptable. Also pink is not mandatory for her either. Let her wear what she wants with in reason to the conditions and weather permit.
-Long hair held back in pony tail and or braid keeps it tucked out of the way and not something to get in the view of the scope or caught in the action of the rifle. Simply put it’s a distraction just not needed and take care of it at camp. (note from taking my wife hunting – as they get older they’ll probably want to toss in some lipstick and such to pretty up before pictures are taken. Don’t pick on them for it. )
- Don’t go cheap on boots and socks. Blisters on her feet mean an end of the hunt, period. They won’t play through the pain and you shouldn’t make them. When you think about it tossing in another $25 at the time to purchase boots will help pay back all you’ve invested in gas and time off work.
- Carhart youth pants will allow her to blaze through stickers like they aren’t there. Truth be told they are sold as ‘boys’ pants, just don’t mention that and cut the tag off if it says it. They also make youth leather gloves. Major investment and worth every penny. They can grab sticker bushes and push them out of the way as well if they tumble their hands won’t get cut up. Any pain that can be avoided makes the trip that much more enjoyable.
- If while you’re glassing you find an animal – show it to her. This doesn’t matter if it’s a rabbit or a chipmunk let them see it through the binos. It’s both practice getting them use to seeing game in glasses but also a distraction to the mind numbing boring as heck death silence part we call glassing. But to them it’s brutal nothingness and they want to do something.
- I’ll add this one for those of you thinking of taking your older daughter or wife out hunting and I mean it in all seriousness. Keep your hunting rig stocked with feminine hygiene products (glove box) as you will be that time of the month will hit on opening day. Besides, leaving a new one tied to a buddies door handle on his truck you find out in the woods is a riot.
- It’s blazing hot out and you just finished gutless method on two javelina and she wants you to cut open the guts and see what’s inside. You do it and give the best review of organs you can. If she wants you to cut the heart open you do. You never know, she might find it so fascinating that it leads to her becoming a heart surgeon. If she wants you to cut the stomach open you do, but hold your breath before you do. I don’t think she’ll EVER ask me to do that again. We laughed quite a while over that one.
- Make it fun and try to book hunts with her friends or other kids her age. Get her out to youth camps and let her mingle with the other kids and hear the stories they have. They seem to learn a lot from others their own age and not us old farts.
- If you can let her choose some of the details about the hunt. If it’s the third day of the hunt and you’re stumped where to go and what to do, give her some ideas and let her pick. If it turns out you find critters and she gets one SHE gets the credit. GOT THAT DAD?
- take photos – tons of them and let her take photos too! Kids take the coolest pictures.
Lastly – and the one I failed to master but learn how not to cry your eyes out that first time she fills a tag. If you figure that one out let me know. I have a second kid to go through this all again.