Hunting has played a significant part in American history, from the adventures of the Native American buffalo hunter to Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known hunting expeditions to modern-day hunting experiences. Hunting has helped shape our culture throughout the generations, serving as a way for fathers, grandfathers, mothers and other relatives to pass down cherished family traditions. But, because hunting is a sport that needs to be treated with the utmost respect and responsibility, there are a few steps you should take when introducing your child to hunting.

Be Open
Children may have difficulty understanding the concept of death and taking a life. Be sure to openly explain the process. Consider giving them some historical background and explain how hunting was once the only way to feed families. You can also discuss how hunting helps with conservation by maintaining healthy wildlife populations. Most of all, be sure to teach your children to respect the animals they are hunting.

Encourage, Don’t Pressure
Hunting is not something to be taken lightly. You can encourage your children, but don’t pressure them to do something they’re not ready for. Some might quickly take to the sport, while others will need some time to adjust. Others might never be okay with the process. Every child is unique.

Put Safety First
Before you hand a child a firearm or weapon of any kind, ensure they understand how to handle the weapon. Take them to a firing range and show them how to safely load, aim and shoot. Also, be sure to teach them about your state’s hunting laws and the safety precautions to take while hunting. They should fully understand these points before entering the woods.

Gear Them Up
Don’t forget to purchase your child comfortable, durable clothing, including camo and, of course, an orange vest. They will be experiencing hunting for the first time, so feeling good will only help the situation. You can find great camo and hunting gear from high-quality retailers like Carhartt.

Keep Conditions in Mind
Harsh conditions can make even the most weathered adult unhappy. So consider how it will make your children feel. Don’t keep them out in severe weather for too long.

Be Realistic
You probably aren’t going to shoot anything on your child’s first hunting trip since there’s a good chance they will make too much noise and want to explore. That’s okay. It’s unrealistic to expect them to experience the hunt as an adult would during their first hunt.

Be Considerate
After your child’s first kill, they might feel sad or even cry. This is normal and you shouldn’t shame them for these feelings. Instead, remind them that hunting contributes to conservation efforts, provides an opportunity for the family to share memories, allows them to connect with nature and put food on the table.

Have Fun
While you might want to bag the biggest buck, duck or turkey, your child might become bored during the hunt, so keep their attention span in mind. You don’t want to sour them on the sport because they feel it’s being forced on them. Keep your hunts fun and make each outing a learning experience by pointing out different trees, grasses, and other animals.

Now that you know these tips, you can start introducing your child to your favorite type of hunting. Good luck, and happy hunting!