From each generation to the next, we are continuously reminded that technology is beginning to dominate our world. However, it is important to teach our children that there is more to life than Angry Birds and Netflix. With that said, hunting is a great tradition to pass from one generation to the next. It gets kids outside. it promotes fitness. And quite frankly, it promotes the use of common sense. If a youngster knows how to survive in the woods, they not only have a rare skill, but it could potentially help them while solving problems later in their educational and professional career. As with any activity involving firearms, however, there are some important aspects to consider. Health & Life sat down with a Georgia Department of Natural Resources representative to answer several of our biggest concerns.
- What is your role with the DNR?
I am a Conservation Ranger (Game Warden) in Southwest Georgia.
- What is your attitude toward children going hunting with a parent?
Our job, as conservation rangers, is to ensure that Georgia’s natural resources will be conserved for our present and future generations. Keeping this in mind, introducing children to hunting and fishing creates a lifelong bond between them and their parents. Hunting is a very safe, enjoyable outdoor activity for every member of a family. I encourage hunters to take kids hunting whether it’s their child, a niece, nephew or a neighbor.
- At what age do you believe it is proper to allow a child to tag along on a hunting trip? (without his/her own firearm)
I started taking my children dove hunting with me when they were four. Dove and small game hunting are pretty active so it’s easier to keep a child interested because they can move and talk. If you’re going to take a child on a deer hunt, keep the hunt around 45 minutes or so. It really depends on the child. Some children don’t have the attention span and some adults don’t have the patience.
- On such a trip, what’s the best way to discuss the dangers of firearms to a child?
While hunting with a child, I like to explain everything. While you’re waiting to shoot, explain the importance of muzzle control, the use of the gun safeties, and where your hands should and shouldn’t be while holding a firearm (finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard). Explain the importance of identifying your target before ever pointing your firearm at it. Firearm safety is important to everyone, not just inexperienced people. If a child sees you being careless they will do the same thing so always set an example by your safe habits and behaviors.
- At what age do you believe it is acceptable to allow a child to handle a firearm with supervision?
There really isn’t an appropriate age; a child should only handle a firearm (with supervision) after learning the dangers of careless behavior and the importance of practicing gun safety. You will know when your child is ready.
- What steps should a child (or anyone for that matter) take before handling a firearm?
I recommend that anyone wanting to handle a firearm take a firearm safety or hunters education course. These courses teach how firearms work and safe practices to exercise while handling a firearm.
- Why do you believe that hunting is good past time for parents to enjoy with their children?
I believe hunting is one of the best past times that a parent/adult can enjoy with a child. It is a great time to learn about nature and the importance to conserving wildlife. Hunting isn’t only about the harvest. To me, it’s about enjoying what God has given us and passing it on. I still remember going hunting with my dad when I was a kid. It’s memories I’ll never forget, and I look forward to making more memories with my children.
- How have you been involved with the aspect hunter’s safety?
I have been teaching hunters’ safety for the past eight years, but I have been practicing it since I was taken on my first hunt.
- In your opinion, what is the number one safety precaution to remember while hunting?
To stay safe while hunting, you need to practice safe muzzle control, identify your target, don’t hunt alone and inspect all tree stands before attempting to hunt from them. Majority of injuries and fatalities that have ocurred while hunting, are tree stand related.
- Here’s a scenario: Say a father would like to take his son hunting, but his mother is skeptical; what is your advice to maintaining a happy medium between parents when it comes to taking a child hunting?
Both parents and the child should have a say in this. The most important part is making sure that the child actually wants to hunt. If they do I would explain that hunting is one of the safest outdoor activities that a child can take part in. They are 25 times more likely to be hurt or injured riding their bike or cheerleading, than hunting. I would explain to the mother that this is a great bonding opportunity, and I would invite her as well.
Health & Life November-December 2015
Written by: Sarah Turner
Photography courtesy of www.oregonsportsmans.com