Age for kids?

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.


If you'd permit me from going on a tangent @HookMeUpII and other readers.

We are facing serious constraints as a society with youths and the future of hunting. While I might claim from my vantage that I've found the "perfect age and perfect state of readiness" there are a lot of considerations.

The #1 problem related to global hunting is the aging out of viable hunters and fishermen. It's a particular crisis for the North American Conservation Model. You go to any event, lecture, or DNR function and 99% of the conversation is the "Three Rs". Recruitment, Reactivation, Retention.

So as pertains to kids, they have never been more distracted. Never have they been more sensitive. Never have they been less capable. Never have they been less resilient. That's a global societal truth.

By the time you think a kid might be ready to be introduced to hunting, you've probably missed the boat by 4-8 years. Sitting in the cold in a stand waiting for a deer for 8 hours is somehow not as interesting as sitting on a phone or xbox all day talking to fake friends. Hunting is no more or less exciting than it was 20,000 years ago, but technology is calibrated to trigger endorphins in the brain in a way that wasn't even considered 15 years ago. Modern tech is designed to be as effective as heroine.

For high performing, high-flyer kids, education has never been more competitive. If your kids are caucasian, east asian, or indian, the odds of them getting into a good school are very, very low. Thus, the notion of getting that kid at say age 12-14 to become interested in hunting is pretty darned slim, they have good cause to be obsessed with education because the challenge of getting ahead has never been harder.

So what do we do?

My opinion is 1.) Greatly restrict technology. 2.) Introduce children to hunting VERY early. 3.) Demand excellence with ever-moving goal posts and challenges to bring them to the brink of tears from defeat, but judge it well enough that they succeed. Keep stretching their coping skills and their difficulty levels. In short, make very hard things become fun things by habit for your kids. 4.) Fund their hunting dreams because a modern kid isn't going to ask over and over again, you either create a garden for them to flourish or they will pivot to the easy/lazy interests of modern youth. 5.) Govern over and limit your kids extra-curricular activities so there is still time for hunting and the required 2 sports and 2 clubs per year formula for them to have a chance to get into a reasonable college.

If your kids aren't hunting by 6-7 years old, big game hunting by 8-10, and bird hunting by 10-12, I think you're going to have big problems you couldn't have foreseen. You cannot measure your kids against your own childhood, nothing about the current era matches the olden days.

The problem we have as adults is we assume past methods and parenting approaches will work with the latest generation of children. It will not. The forces working against kids today is nothing like it was for Greatest Generation, Baby Boom, or Gen X adults.

If you're not spending 20 hours a week planning, preparing, enjoying, or practicing with your kids related to hunting, you're falling behind in a game that you may not be able to recover later on.

Related to the three Rs, you can reach people at three times in their lives: 6-10 years old, 28-35 (after school, career start, marriage), and again at 50-60 (peak earnings, empty nesters, free time returns).

By the numbers, if you don't get 6-10 year olds obsessed, they will be unlikely to retain, and they won't even have a shot to reactivate in your lifetimes.
 
If you'd permit me from going on a tangent @HookMeUpII and other readers.

We are facing serious constraints as a society with youths and the future of hunting. While I might claim from my vantage that I've found the "perfect age and perfect state of readiness" there are a lot of considerations.

The #1 problem related to global hunting is the aging out of viable hunters and fishermen. It's a particular crisis for the North American Conservation Model. You go to any event, lecture, or DNR function and 99% of the conversation is the "Three Rs". Recruitment, Reactivation, Retention.

So as pertains to kids, they have never been more distracted. Never have they been more sensitive. Never have they been less capable. Never have they been less resilient. That's a global societal truth.

By the time you think a kid might be ready to be introduced to hunting, you've probably missed the boat by 4-8 years. Sitting in the cold in a stand waiting for a deer for 8 hours is somehow not as interesting as sitting on a phone or xbox all day talking to fake friends. Hunting is no more or less exciting than it was 20,000 years ago, but technology is calibrated to trigger endorphins in the brain in a way that wasn't even considered 15 years ago. Modern tech is designed to be as effective as heroine.

For high performing, high-flyer kids, education has never been more competitive. If your kids are caucasian, east asian, or indian, the odds of them getting into a good school are very, very low. Thus, the notion of getting that kid at say age 12-14 to become interested in hunting is pretty darned slim, they have good cause to be obsessed with education because the challenge of getting ahead has never been harder.

So what do we do?

My opinion is 1.) Greatly restrict technology. 2.) Introduce children to hunting VERY early. 3.) Demand excellence with ever-moving goal posts and challenges to bring them to the brink of tears from defeat, but judge it well enough that they succeed. Keep stretching their coping skills and their difficulty levels. In short, make very hard things become fun things by habit for your kids. 4.) Fund their hunting dreams because a modern kid isn't going to ask over and over again, you either create a garden for them to flourish or they will pivot to the easy/lazy interests of modern youth. 5.) Govern over and limit your kids extra-curricular activities so there is still time for hunting and the required 2 sports and 2 clubs per year formula for them to have a chance to get into a reasonable college.

If your kids aren't hunting by 6-7 years old, big game hunting by 8-10, and bird hunting by 10-12, I think you're going to have big problems you couldn't have foreseen. You cannot measure your kids against your own childhood, nothing about the current era matches the olden days.

The problem we have as adults is we assume past methods and parenting approaches will work with the latest generation of children. It will not. The forces working against kids today is nothing like it was for Greatest Generation, Baby Boom, or Gen X adults.

If you're not spending 20 hours a week planning, preparing, enjoying, or practicing with your kids related to hunting, you're falling behind in a game that you may not be able to recover later on.

Related to the three Rs, you can reach people at three times in their lives: 6-10 years old, 28-35 (after school, career start, marriage), and again at 50-60 (peak earnings, empty nesters, free time returns).

By the numbers, if you don't get 6-10 year olds obsessed, they will be unlikely to retain, and they won't even have a shot to reactivate in your lifetimes.

Now off to go convince my wife , for our two daughters !
 
If you'd permit me from going on a tangent @HookMeUpII and other readers.

We are facing serious constraints as a society with youths and the future of hunting. While I might claim from my vantage that I've found the "perfect age and perfect state of readiness" there are a lot of considerations.

The #1 problem related to global hunting is the aging out of viable hunters and fishermen. It's a particular crisis for the North American Conservation Model. You go to any event, lecture, or DNR function and 99% of the conversation is the "Three Rs". Recruitment, Reactivation, Retention.

So as pertains to kids, they have never been more distracted. Never have they been more sensitive. Never have they been less capable. Never have they been less resilient. That's a global societal truth.

By the time you think a kid might be ready to be introduced to hunting, you've probably missed the boat by 4-8 years. Sitting in the cold in a stand waiting for a deer for 8 hours is somehow not as interesting as sitting on a phone or xbox all day talking to fake friends. Hunting is no more or less exciting than it was 20,000 years ago, but technology is calibrated to trigger endorphins in the brain in a way that wasn't even considered 15 years ago. Modern tech is designed to be as effective as heroine.

For high performing, high-flyer kids, education has never been more competitive. If your kids are caucasian, east asian, or indian, the odds of them getting into a good school are very, very low. Thus, the notion of getting that kid at say age 12-14 to become interested in hunting is pretty darned slim, they have good cause to be obsessed with education because the challenge of getting ahead has never been harder.

So what do we do?

My opinion is 1.) Greatly restrict technology. 2.) Introduce children to hunting VERY early. 3.) Demand excellence with ever-moving goal posts and challenges to bring them to the brink of tears from defeat, but judge it well enough that they succeed. Keep stretching their coping skills and their difficulty levels. In short, make very hard things become fun things by habit for your kids. 4.) Fund their hunting dreams because a modern kid isn't going to ask over and over again, you either create a garden for them to flourish or they will pivot to the easy/lazy interests of modern youth. 5.) Govern over and limit your kids extra-curricular activities so there is still time for hunting and the required 2 sports and 2 clubs per year formula for them to have a chance to get into a reasonable college.

If your kids aren't hunting by 6-7 years old, big game hunting by 8-10, and bird hunting by 10-12, I think you're going to have big problems you couldn't have foreseen. You cannot measure your kids against your own childhood, nothing about the current era matches the olden days.

The problem we have as adults is we assume past methods and parenting approaches will work with the latest generation of children. It will not. The forces working against kids today is nothing like it was for Greatest Generation, Baby Boom, or Gen X adults.

If you're not spending 20 hours a week planning, preparing, enjoying, or practicing with your kids related to hunting, you're falling behind in a game that you may not be able to recover later on.

Related to the three Rs, you can reach people at three times in their lives: 6-10 years old, 28-35 (after school, career start, marriage), and again at 50-60 (peak earnings, empty nesters, free time returns).

By the numbers, if you don't get 6-10 year olds obsessed, they will be unlikely to retain, and they won't even have a shot to reactivate in your lifetimes.

We have a 2 year old at home and wife is pregnant with #2, now. My wife (a teacher) and I restrict tech heavily. It makes our lives about 75% harder because it's constant live entertainment from us but we make the sacrifice. He gets supervised TV on Saturday and Sundays just to let him have a little bit of low-hanging entertainment. And even then, we don't "offer it" in lieu of him reading a book, playing with his toys,, etc. That's it. No phones, no tablets. There are some days I'm exhausted. Trying to help the pregnant wife clean, cook, etc with a 2 year old running amuck is a challenge. The good news is he's an active kid and always wants to play outside, help walk the dog, etc. Once he gets inside of one of my boats, it's over. Big deal to try and get him out. Loves the zoo, animals, pointing out animals on our walks, etc.

So we shall see. I think as a kid, he's about as setup on the track to be an outdoorsman as one can be.
 
As young as reasonably possible
Only you as parents will know
Dont leave it too late
 
We debated the same situation not long ago. Covid killed our first planned safari 2-3wks before we were scheduled to leave. It worked out well. Our youngest son would’ve been 5. We ended up going when he was 7. He had deer hunted with me some the year or two in between, and practiced lots with his 22. Needless to say he took his first animal in Africa, he hasn’t forgotten it, and absolutely loves Africa and hunting here now. I wouldn’t change a single thing about. He did really well on his first stalk, even the PH was impressed. He didn’t make the shot, but a day or two later and it all worked out well. He dropped his blesbuck right where it stood. We have lots of memories, went back last year and made even more. He shot a hemsbuck and a springbuck. We made lots of stalks, he got aggravated a few times but stuck with it and made the best of it
 
My son was 12 for his first safari, 15 for DG hunting. He was interested in going and wanted to learn. It was a precious experience that I cherish. I’ve been around some of his friends that would not have been ready at age 15, so the upbringing, experience and the individuals dedication make a big difference.

My vegetarian daughter was 17 on her first safari. She had been around guns and hunting, but was not interested. Africa changed that! She became very interested in hunting within a few days and now truly enjoys it. She still doesn’t eat meat but enjoys that we (all) eat whatever she hunts.

I’m confident that hunting trips will help to keep us doing things as a family as they age. Actually, it is really adventure/exploring trips, with hunting as a component.

I’m bringing my non-hunting sister to Namibia this September. She seems ready to hunt, but I’m not going to push it.
 
15 & 12 for my sons first safaris. I took them and my beautiful wife to Limcroma Safaris in South Africa. They still say it was favorite vacation!

HH
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HH
 
I took my 7 and 9 year old step daughters along with my pregnant wife. It was life changing for the girls. First time flying. First time in another country. First time being in terrain that wasn’t the South East. First time hunting. It matured them ina

I really need to do a write up on the trip. Although we hunted, hunting was not really out top priority. We also went to Kruger for 3 or 4 days.
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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.
Brilliantly written, thank you Rookhawk!!
 
@Tally-Ho HUNTING SAFARIS has the answer. Only you as their parent guardian knows their capabilities, maturity, likes and dislikes, attention span and personality. It also depends on the hunt type. Who said the child has to hunt to be exposed and have outstanding lifetime memories made. A SA or Namibia ranch/farm hunt with lots of detailed planning would be easily completed as a family adventure. Add a few things for the child to see do and why not take them, hunt would be different with a 5 yr old along, same for 7, 9 and up to adulthood.

I say you will regret more NOT taking them. That's me, never took mine when they were young and all of a sudden they were too old with education, jobs and families. Look at the faces and smiles of all the young children already posted and tell me they are not having fun.

Take your kids if remotely possible.

MB
 
Every one of my kids have been different and hunt or shoot for different reasons. I have guided just enough to believe most kids get to hunt too early-they don’t appreciate the challenge and they don’t understand about irreversibly taking a life.
This morning my son who just turned 10 got broken in on mowing the lawns. The respect for the machine, the lawns themselves and the pride of a job well done were lacking.
He isn’t ready mentally to kill anything yet but he is ready for small caliber training and we have spent a lot of time on the local range. By summers end he will have learned to respect the lawnmower and the lay of grass and maybe, just maybe will be ready to move up a caliber both mentally and physically.
Everyone’s kids are different, but there are indications when they are ready and some training to prepare them for that day.
 
Every one of my kids have been different and hunt or shoot for different reasons. I have guided just enough to believe most kids get to hunt too early-they don’t appreciate the challenge and they don’t understand about irreversibly taking a life.
This morning my son who just turned 10 got broken in on mowing the lawns. The respect for the machine, the lawns themselves and the pride of a job well done were lacking.
He isn’t ready mentally to kill anything yet but he is ready for small caliber training and we have spent a lot of time on the local range. By summers end he will have learned to respect the lawnmower and the lay of grass and maybe, just maybe will be ready to move up a caliber both mentally and physically.
Everyone’s kids are different, but there are indications when they are ready and some training to prepare them for that day.

This isn’t an attack on you at all, or your son, but really more of a general example of society at large.

Ten year’s old too young to mow a lawn? WTF has happened to us as a people? I agree, a kid that can’t mow a lawn shouldn’t be holding a gun either. Add to that, I don’t think your example is behind the curve at present, but rather there are many kids unfit for lawn mowing duty at 14 years old.

Friends, we are getting our asses Kicked by the measure of our grandparents generation and certainly by Asia at present when it comes to work ethic and abilities of our youth.

We were sending our 17 year olds to get shot at by the VC in Vietnam only a couple generations ago. They weren’t just expected to be ready to use a gun at 17, they were expected under penalty of death to follow orders, fix broken machinery, kill other men with weapons or their hands, and potentially to send money back to their wives and children…at 17.

Back to a full circle from my comments many posts ago, age of readiness isn’t a definable thing, I truly believe there are 50 year olds that aren’t ready for Africa.

I’m very worried about the global competition my own kids are going to experience and they are falling behind. My 11 year old was rototilling mineral wallows yesterday, my 13 year old was nailing down carpets in hunting blinds. The Mrs thinks they are “just about ready for manual labor” and I’m thinking that there are kids their age that would have been practicing to get on the GM assembly line as skilled labor by age 16 in the 1960s.

The whole USA of all age groups is under skilled and immature, on the average. Lack of readiness to go hunting is a tragic symptom of a much bleaker, larger problem.
 
Part of that generation creep you are talking about is the change brought about by lifestyle and living conditions. (Economics?)
Many kids today don’t even have lawns to mow. My mower is a push style, no power assist and we have a big lawn. I was lucky to grow up on a farm. We raised and killed animals for food so killing quickly and caring for life was a daily part of our lives.
Kids these days don’t grow up on family farms and butcher rabbits for food or load the loft with hay for cattle in the snow months. They can’t just take a gun and wander into the foothills like I did when I was a kid. The hills I hunted as a kid are now subdivisions. Another Lost opportunity for today’s kids. . .
Some of us were lucky to have grown up in that era. I can’t afford a farm and my kids know different “jobs” than I had as a kid.
I expose them to what I can and hope they will have some of my passions in their dna.
 
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Part of that generation creep you are talking about is the change brought about by lifestyle and living conditions. (Economics?)
Many kids today don’t even have lawns to mow. My mower is a push style, no power assist and we have a big lawn. I was lucky to grow up on a farm. We raised and killed animals for food so killing quickly and caring for life was a daily part of our lives.
Kids these days don’t grow up on family farms and butcher rabbits for food or load the loft with hay for cattle in the snow months. They can’t just take a gun and wander into the foothills like I did when I was a kid. The hills I hunted as a kid are now subdivisions. Another Lost opportunity for today’s kids. . .
Some of us were lucky to have grown up in that era. I can’t afford a farm and my kids know different “jobs” than I had as a kid.
I expose them to what I can and hope they will have some of my passions in their dna.

I sympathize and relate to what you’ve said. There is a painful option but it’s expensive and bold. 1.) sell everything you have, 2.) take a 40% pay cut, 3.) reduce your retirement goals, 4.) move to a place with rural acreage, 5.) let kids flourish “the way we remember things”

I did just that, but it was an astounding sacrifice for the whole family. We moved from a town with a median household income of $160,000 to a hamlet with a median household income of $58,000.

The difference? In our old location 50% of the 5th grade girls had a coming out party as LGBTQ2S+, in our current location they shut down school and most jobs for opening week of deer season. Priorities and values.
 

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From one newbie to another, Welcome aboard!
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We have just completed a group hunt with guys from North Carolina, please feel free to contact the organizers of the group, Auburn at auburn@opextechnologies.com or Courtney at courtney@opextechnologies.com Please visit our website www.blaauwkrantz.com and email me at zanidixie@gmail.com
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Good morning. I'll take all of them actually. Whats the next step? Thanks, Derek
Have a look af our latest post on the biggest roan i ever guided on!


I realize how hard the bug has bit. I’m on the cusp of safari #2 and I’m looking to plan #3 with my 11 year old a year from now while looking at my work schedule for overtime and computing the math of how many shifts are needed….
 
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