Age for kids?

HookMeUpII

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New Jersey, Georgia, RSA
I did my first Africa trip to RSA in May of 2023. My son at the time wasn't even 1 and stayed home with my wife. Came back, showed the wife all the pics, and she said she wanted to go. Naturally, my dream at this point is to return with my wife and son. My son is now almost 2 and absolutely fascinated by all things animals. He is especially fond of giraffes, zebra, lions and elephants.

What age are you typically seeing kids enjoying the full experience in Africa? I recently just read something on here about bringing a 7 year old. For contrast, our outfitter prefers 15 and older.

Any experiences from forum members on bringing kids on the younger side? Maybe like 7-10 years old? Or is that too young?
 
My youngest turned 11 in January, he will be hunting Africa this July.

@rookhawk is a good one to ask. His kiddos started hunting a young ages and he does a lot with them.
 
My youngest turned 11 in January, he will be hunting Africa this July.

@rookhawk is a good one to ask. His kiddos started hunting a young ages and he does a lot with them.

Hopefully he chimes in as well. That's sort of what I was thinking. Around the age of 10. About the age where they are old enough to appreciate it and partake. Also about the age they can follow instructions as well.

I'm sure your son is going to have a blast.

Now if only I can squeeze in one more trip myself before he turns 10 LOL
 
My son went with me when he was 12 and hunted. We returned with our three daughters who were 14, 11 and nine and all three hunted successfully.
 
The younger ones didn’t hunt everyday. But we hunted hard first two days with the four children and went the third day to a school and fed the children and village with the harvest. It was life altering for my children!! They took part in the preparation of the animals and the stew that was prepared. Much younger and I’m not sure it would have been as impactful.
 
I did my first Africa trip to RSA in May of 2023. My son at the time wasn't even 1 and stayed home with my wife. Came back, showed the wife all the pics, and she said she wanted to go. Naturally, my dream at this point is to return with my wife and son. My son is now almost 2 and absolutely fascinated by all things animals. He is especially fond of giraffes, zebra, lions and elephants.

What age are you typically seeing kids enjoying the full experience in Africa? I recently just read something on here about bringing a 7 year old. For contrast, our outfitter prefers 15 and older.

Any experiences from forum members on bringing kids on the younger side? Maybe like 7-10 years old? Or is that too young?

I brought my son on Safari starting at age 10 for plains game and age 11 for dangerous game hunting. The first safari he was spot and stalk hunting with his bow, and also using his smallbore rifle. His second safari he was hunting DG with a 375HH.

Would I bring a young child or infant to Africa? Absolutely not. Nutrition, disease, access to urgent care, a fragile immune system, and lack of approved pharmaceuticals that are safe for children that young to treat potential ailments....all these things preclude bringing a small child to Africa. (e.g. a little kid cannot receive Doxycycline, an antibiotic that may be required for serious bacterial infections)

So now that we've established what is certainly too young and why, lets discuss the milestones that would indicate a minor is ready for a safari. This resume matters, because discipline/judgment/experience is not gifted to humans magically at a particular age, for that reason, there are many 50 year olds that I do not believe should be going on a safari as well.

What it took for me to bring a kid to Africa:

1.) I had been to the country on safari many times previously. I knew the risks at face value.
2.) I knew the geography, locations of airports, hospitals, road safety, etc.
3.) I knew the operators/PHs very well, I had seen their equipment, their credentials, and their ability to manage crisis on a daily basis.
4.) I knew the staff and believed them to be of good character.

What it took my son to convince me he was ready for Africa:

1.) He was emotionally stable, never prone to outbursts or hysterics when faced with disappointment. He had never thrown a weapon, a fishing rod, or had other signs he lacked self control in a sporting setting.

2.) He first attended hunter safety at age 6, he retook the class at age 7 to "sharpen up", and he was a junior instructor at that age.

3.) From age 7-8 he took several big game animals competently with a rifle that fit him. He studied shot angles, organ locations, and could shoot acceptable groups at reasonable distances off sticks, rests, and benches. He had the physical strength to carry his weapon, load/unload/fire the weapon, and clean the weapon proficiently.

4.) From age 8-10 he demonstrated expertise with a bow, taking deer, bear, and turkey. Over a similar age he demonstrated expertise with rifle shooting deer, pronghorn, and oryx in the USA under wild conditions.

5.) He exhibited propriety at all times with adults under all settings. He dresses himself correctly for all types of hunting and weather conditions, he determines proper attire for banquets, fundraisers, gun club settings, and other environments frequented by 99% adults. He demonstrated his ability to speak politely, maintain eye contact with adults, converse in complex terms with understanding on relevant topics in the field and before/after the hunt. Bottom line, he's a snot-nosed, unwelcome interloper in adult settings until he can earn his right to be in these settings by the unanimous agreement of all adults in the room. There is no point going to an SCI banquet or a hunting lodge with a child if they are pissing off the hosts/guests adjacent to him/her.

6.) He exhibited good competence at the field identification of legal and illegal game and could explain why. He could accurately determine which shot distances and presentations were unacceptable.

7.) He had a broad palette, willing to eat any food presented to him with grace and enthusiasm, anywhere in the world. He eats all the food presented on his plate, praising the chef, and politely requesting more of his preferred foods only after he has consumed all of his portion. Going on a hunting trip isn't the time to discover a child is inflexible, unwilling to eat organ meat, unusual salad dressings, or different spices. There is only so much emotional intelligence in a human and you need 100% of it to deal with the failures and frustrations of what is happening in the bush, there is no arguing or room for disagreement on whether the child is going to eat impala liver, braised bear, foie gras, elk roast, or an eland colon sausage.

8.) He could range game effectively and understood the drop of his firearm, and its loss of energy at those distances. He could range game effectively and 100% of the time before drawing back on his bow. He demonstrated the habit of drawing back his bow and letting down when the shot was unacceptable rather than "sending it".

9.) He was able to service his bow himself, regulate his necessary practice, hunt from a stand or blind alone, track his own spoor and blood, and recover his big game without adult intervention. (fortunately, this is a gift of his, he has journeyman level tracking skills and has bested outfitters a couple of times)

10.) He demonstrated independence, and was completely at ease hunting with or without his parent. He was able to analyze what decisions were logically able to yield the best hunting results and often requested to hunt with his PH 1:1 with fewer parents/trackers/scouts present if that was advantageous to his hunt.

11.) He was physically fit and not a cry baby. He'd smile with blood pouring down his arms from jess thorns he hadn't noticed on his stalks. He broke in his boots so he never whined about sore feet. He had his own knife and could cut out a thorn, or serve himself his own biltong without the lunch-lady having to tend to him like an infant.

That's my criteria I needed to see to feel comfortable taking a 9-10 year old kid on safari. Your values and expectations may differ, but those were mine.

I remind my children of the truth of the world that nobody tells kids these days: the world hates you by default, your politeness, competence, good manners, verbal skills, and conduct are what opens doors of opportunity. You will succeed at nothing if people don't like you and its an uphill climb. This advice is especially important if you're taking a kid on a safari.
 
I've just commented on the other thread about age of first safari...

My lad is 11. Last season I bought him a .410 for squirrels and vermin. He shot a pheasant with it and a few ducks. One evening as we waited for ducks to flight into a pond he picked up my 12g. He shot half a dozen shot and killed two ducks. The next day I bought him a 20g. He's been shooting this regularly at pigeons and ducks along with clays.
He's not done much with a rifle so I plan on concentrating on that over the summer.
So my big question I'm constantly asking myself is when should I book a safari....I'm stuck between trying to create as many memories together as possible and him just taking it for granted, to much to soon.
I think I took him fishing to much so now it's something that doesn't excite him.
I'll be stalking red hinds in Scotland in November so I plan on letting him try for one. If he's ok with that then possibly a first safari for us both the year after.

I'm thinking a straight forward short plains game hunt in SA rather than something more adventurous. Or perhaps wait until he's 15 and save up for a once in a lifetime experience safari for a longer duration.
My lad is fit and switched on, he trains at a boxing gym twice a week. Has been brought up around guns and is level headed
 
Hopefully he chimes in as well. That's sort of what I was thinking. Around the age of 10. About the age where they are old enough to appreciate it and partake. Also about the age they can follow instructions as well.

I'm sure your son is going to have a blast.

Now if only I can squeeze in one more trip myself before he turns 10 LOL
He is going to try to break me! He has a list of animals longer than his arm he want to take! It will be a blast, our family is going together. It may not be a trip of a lifetime, we will have memories that will last a lifetime.
 
My daughter is 11. She's killed a turkey and two deer already. She really wants a kudu and I badly want to take her. I want to wait until she's 13-14 at the least.

My reasoning is twofold. 1. She's little bitty and has needed quite a bit of help with her deer and turkey. She's mentally mature, but she hasn't hit her growth spurt yet and is tiny. She has a mighty attitude, and is independent, but she's the smallest kid in her class. She's an athlete, involved in softball and basketball, with great hand/eye coordination, but she's not very strong yet. She struggles with manipulating the guns and requires someone right there. So I want her big enough and competent enough to handle the firearm herself. I think she needs a few years for this yet.

2. I want her to remember it and be able to have that memory forever. I remember some stuff from family vacations and important events at 10 and 11, but I have much clearer memories of vacations and important events from when I was just a bit older. Again, I think she needs a few years mental maturity to be able to remember and appreciate this more fully.

This applies to my kid only, and I believe it's up to each parent to determine the best interests of their child and when they are mentally and physically mature enough.

My opinion.
 
My grandson turned 10 in January, we leave in 21 days for South Africa. My second trip his first. He started shooting squirrels at 6 with a 22. Took his first deer at age 7 with a 308. We shoot Wednesday evenings every week when the weather is decent. Honestly he will shoot better than me most days.
 
I brought my son on Safari starting at age 10 for plains game and age 11 for dangerous game hunting. The first safari he was spot and stalk hunting with his bow, and also using his smallbore rifle. His second safari he was hunting DG with a 375HH.

Would I bring a young child or infant to Africa? Absolutely not. Nutrition, disease, access to urgent care, a fragile immune system, and lack of approved pharmaceuticals that are safe for children that young to treat potential ailments....all these things preclude bringing a small child to Africa. (e.g. a little kid cannot receive Doxycycline, an antibiotic that may be required for serious bacterial infections)

So now that we've established what is certainly too young and why, lets discuss the milestones that would indicate a minor is ready for a safari. This resume matters, because discipline/judgment/experience is not gifted to humans magically at a particular age, for that reason, there are many 50 year olds that I do not believe should be going on a safari as well.

What it took for me to bring a kid to Africa:

1.) I had been to the country on safari many times previously. I knew the risks at face value.
2.) I knew the geography, locations of airports, hospitals, road safety, etc.
3.) I knew the operators/PHs very well, I had seen their equipment, their credentials, and their ability to manage crisis on a daily basis.
4.) I knew the staff and believed them to be of good character.

What it took my son to convince me he was ready for Africa:

1.) He was emotionally stable, never prone to outbursts or hysterics when faced with disappointment. He had never thrown a weapon, a fishing rod, or had other signs he lacked self control in a sporting setting.

2.) He first attended hunter safety at age 6, he retook the class at age 7 to "sharpen up", and he was a junior instructor at that age.

3.) From age 7-8 he took several big game animals competently with a rifle that fit him. He studied shot angles, organ locations, and could shoot acceptable groups at reasonable distances off sticks, rests, and benches. He had the physical strength to carry his weapon, load/unload/fire the weapon, and clean the weapon proficiently.

4.) From age 8-10 he demonstrated expertise with a bow, taking deer, bear, and turkey. Over a similar age he demonstrated expertise with rifle shooting deer, pronghorn, and oryx in the USA under wild conditions.

5.) He exhibited propriety at all times with adults under all settings. He dresses himself correctly for all types of hunting and weather conditions, he determines proper attire for banquets, fundraisers, gun club settings, and other environments frequented by 99% adults. He demonstrated his ability to speak politely, maintain eye contact with adults, converse in complex terms with understanding on relevant topics in the field and before/after the hunt. Bottom line, he's a snot-nosed, unwelcome interloper in adult settings until he can earn his right to be in these settings by the unanimous agreement of all adults in the room. There is no point going to an SCI banquet or a hunting lodge with a child if they are pissing off the hosts/guests adjacent to him/her.

6.) He exhibited good competence at the field identification of legal and illegal game and could explain why. He could accurately determine which shot distances and presentations were unacceptable.

7.) He had a broad palette, willing to eat any food presented to him with grace and enthusiasm, anywhere in the world. He eats all the food presented on his plate, praising the chef, and politely requesting more of his preferred foods only after he has consumed all of his portion. Going on a hunting trip isn't the time to discover a child is inflexible, unwilling to eat organ meat, unusual salad dressings, or different spices. There is only so much emotional intelligence in a human and you need 100% of it to deal with the failures and frustrations of what is happening in the bush, there is no arguing or room for disagreement on whether the child is going to eat impala liver, braised bear, foie gras, elk roast, or an eland colon sausage.

8.) He could range game effectively and understood the drop of his firearm, and its loss of energy at those distances. He could range game effectively and 100% of the time before drawing back on his bow. He demonstrated the habit of drawing back his bow and letting down when the shot was unacceptable rather than "sending it".

9.) He was able to service his bow himself, regulate his necessary practice, hunt from a stand or blind alone, track his own spoor and blood, and recover his big game without adult intervention. (fortunately, this is a gift of his, he has journeyman level tracking skills and has bested outfitters a couple of times)

10.) He demonstrated independence, and was completely at ease hunting with or without his parent. He was able to analyze what decisions were logically able to yield the best hunting results and often requested to hunt with his PH 1:1 with fewer parents/trackers/scouts present if that was advantageous to his hunt.

11.) He was physically fit and not a cry baby. He'd smile with blood pouring down his arms from jess thorns he hadn't noticed on his stalks. He broke in his boots so he never whined about sore feet. He had his own knife and could cut out a thorn, or serve himself his own biltong without the lunch-lady having to tend to him like an infant.

That's my criteria I needed to see to feel comfortable taking a 9-10 year old kid on safari. Your values and expectations may differ, but those were mine.

I remind my children of the truth of the world that nobody tells kids these days: the world hates you by default, your politeness, competence, good manners, verbal skills, and conduct are what opens doors of opportunity. You will succeed at nothing if people don't like you and its an uphill climb. This advice is especially important if you're taking a kid on a safari.

I know a lot of adults who wouldn’t qualify under these criteria
 
I took my four kids. The youngest was 4 at the time, oldest was 16. More of needed to but I would have no problem taking young kids to Namibia or parts of South Africa. I will tell you the four year, now 11 doesn’t remember that trip or the two others he took to Africa. It was good for me and wife as one did not have to stay behind. Do it not for the kid but for you and your wife.
 
I know a lot of adults who wouldn’t qualify under these criteria

True. But I don't care what other people do, I only care if my kids get invited back to the great experiences they've enjoyed. I have a real problem with age requirements in general because they operate under the assumptions of maturity over time...that runs contrary to all my life experiences. Maturity is training, discipline, and temperance.
 
I’m taking both mine to RSA in June. They will be 9 and almost 11. They’ve both taken big game animals (they both enjoy hunting and shooting though my daughter is a straight up killer). When deciding whether to take them or not we simply decided that if they took hunter safety and could prove they were competent and safe shooters at reasonable ranges (100 yards) they could go. My daughter has a 4 animal list and my son has a 2 animal list. I have a 6 animal list but will be happy to shoot less if they shoot their animals. They are also only shooting the standard stuff like impala, blesbok, warthog and springbok. To keep them sharp we’ve been putting hundreds of .22lr rounds down range off a big pod tripod. 5” Steel plates out to 100 yards has been the training regimen lately. Also mixing in a little practice with the 7-08 but mostly .22lr focused on fundamentals and shooting off a tripod instead of a bench.
 
Rookhawks summary above is nearly perfect IMO. I wouldn't take a kid over there unless they showed genuine interest in the whole thing. My step kids (both boys) 13 and 14 see all the trophies in my house, pictures, etc, but don't really show all that much interest in it at all. They don't ask any real questions about my gun collection, want to hear any stories, nothing. Therefore, they will not be a part of any of it. My wife on the other hand was transformed by her first trip with me 2 years ago to Zim, and I look forward to her being my travel partner on safari for many years. But honestly, I know a lot of guys that would never even take their wife much less their kids.
 
It depends on the kid.



My son killed his first deer when he was 8, another when he was 10.





At 15, he was completely "capable".


He could hike farther/faster than me, carry as much weight as me, knew wilderness survival and first aid, was completely competent with firearms, knives, fire building, etc.
 
I think 13 is a good age for boys and girls. At that age many kids strong, smart and aware of the world at large.
 
In 2021 I took both of my boys . They were 7 & 11. Both killed 4 animals a piece and handled hunting just fine. They both had killed multiple deer at that point and we still spent a bunch of time shooting beforehand.

The only 2 regrets were that I don’t think the 7 year old really will remember it 10 years from now like I will. He’s got a mind like a steel trap, but still. The other was their food pallet was not very sophisticated. Even though the food was fantastic, they didn’t do great there and it was a point of irritation all week.

With that said, it’s their favorite place they’ve ever been and I will take them back at some point.
 
I first took my son when he was 7 & my daughter when she was 13. But both were extremely obedient and independent.

I felt it was a lot safer to take them with me than leaving them at home with their mother, due to her substance abuse problems.

Later, after my divorce (and getting custody of my children) I started taking them with me on several more of my African safaris (but always with their consent). It helped that both of them genuinely had/have an interest in hunting and even today… they (along with my grandchildren) absolutely love going on safari with me.

But I would personally not take any child younger than 7.

IMG_1790.jpeg
 
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Lots to think about after all the input. I see @rookhawk jumped in with some awesome info. It really seems like I should be looking at 10 years old at the minimum. There's a lot of runway till then. My son might not be interesting in hunting at all?

The good news (for me) is my wife is all-in for a trip and sort of mentioned "we don't have to take the kid(s) right away." It sounds like she might be onboard for a husband/wife trip before before our son (or any future children) hit the suitable age to go.
 

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