I’ll never forget one of the first times I geared up for an elk hunt in the temperamental Cascade Range in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. I dug through my camo, geared up my boys, packed snacks, threw in some books, grabbed my rifle, and made sure all was a go. We had planned an evening in the mountains for quite some time, and the excitement grew as we got ready to go. I, of course, harnessed the potential for disaster, a random meltdown, and coming home empty-handed, but never did I imagine it would work out quite the way it did. Don’t get excited by the thought of it turning out better than expected – it was a bonafide disaster.
There’s a certain peace that comes from immersing yourself in nature; a solitude and oneness with the wild that is nearly impossible to experience in other areas of life, so naturally, I had hopes of tasting that sweetness on this trip as well. An expectation, I would quickly learn would lead me down the path straight to the heart of irritation.
It took me several more attempts, botched trips, and meltdowns, from all of us, before I started to realize, I was going about it all wrong.
So, how do you go about getting the kids involved in the hunt? Before we dive into the “how” I think it is pivotal to remember for anything to be a success, especially with kids, patience is key. We can all drum up a memory as a youngster of being talked into something that just really didn’t appeal to us. “It’ll be fun”, they say. Keeping in mind these new experiences for kids are received much different from their perspective than ours. Keep them comfortable, engaged, and give them a job to do.
‘I spy’, seek out new kinds of foliage, trees, flowers, or berries, then add in a quick lesson about the vegetation and what deer, elk, bear and other wildlife feed on. Stop to check out streams, show them game trails, have a rock throwing contest, try to identify the noises you hear, and see which ones they can pick up on.