Why rabbit hunting is perfect for introducing kids to the outdoors

  1. editor
    While many will fight you to the death that deer, waterfowl, or turkey hunting is the only way to go, those who know understand that taking flop ears with the aid of dogs is the sport of kings. Its this sport that is perfect to bring the youth of today into and create the sportsmen of tomorrow.

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    (GA Dept of Wildlife)

    Why start small?

    Small game hunting often is the first type of hunting to which beginner sportsmen are exposed. The lessons learned while hunting for these abundant creatures are a foundation for future expeditions against more complex game. Woe is the big game hunter who did not cut their teeth in the field looking for something simpler to begin with.

    Remember, this is a sport just like softball, swimming or gymnastics. In each of those, you started small, simple, and basic, then added things as your skill progressed and you got better. Like these sports, hunting, especially for small game, can be enjoyable your whole life.

    Every sport has a beginning, and in the world of hunting, it begins with small game. Small game hunting can be a gateway to learn a whole group of outdoor activities like hiking, camping, other types of hunting, or geocaching. Then, after you have mastered it, you can share with others the gift of what you have learned. It is then that you can see just how magical learning how to hunt can be.

    The Dog-kid connection

    Children and dogs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Find me a kid that doesn't like dogs and I'll show you a kid that hasn't been around enough of them. Its just this link that can help bring that youngster out into the field. First, make sure they spend lots of time working with the dogs be they beagles, hounds or whatnot. This includes working, training, feeding, and the rest. Don't forget the need for occasional play time between man and beast (or kid and pup we should say) as long as it doesn't interfere with training.

    Once you have the kid in love with dogs, getting them in the woods is a piece of cake.

    Add the field

    After your kid is making that connection to the dog, take both out on non-season walks and field tests to see what happens. This helps both the pups and the kids and will ease cooperation between the two once the season comes along.

    Dry run.

    Take the kid along once the season does open. Not on the long four-day weekend trips mind you, but on the short home-by-lunch type outings that are just enough to get the feel of things. Even if your new tag along is a shooter, leave their shotgun at home the first time just so you can keep them under control without having to worry about an extra muzzle floating around. Also, note that they need their ear protection for when things get loud.

    Keep them close. Keep them safe. Keep them involved in every aspect from explaining why you use the shot and shell size you do, what the signs are that a flop ear is near, where to work the dogs for the best results, and so forth.

    Even if you don't bag anything, the outing should be counted as a success when you ask the youth afterward, "Did you learn anything?" and they say yes.

    Afterward, ask them what they liked the best and why. Then, of course, what they don't like and why. Most of all do your share of listening. Even if they are wrong and you have to correct them, it is this type of interaction that they remember when they take a kid on a their first rabbit hunt decades from now.

    And in a way, you'll be there too.

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