It’s really important to teach children about firearm safety as early in life as possible, especially if you have a shotgun or two in the house. What better way to do this then by introducing them to the sporting activity of quail hunting?
There’s a sure-fire way of getting kids off the couch and interacting with nature and their environment, and that’s quail hunting. You may also want to have a resting spot, in other words, a suitable tent where you and your family can have some recreation moments, have a look at the camping gear featured on Camp4.
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If you are lucky enough to live in one of the states where these small (but fast) birds are found, then hunting quail is the best way to introduce your children to this enjoyable sport.
What is the Best Age to Introduce a Child to Hunting?
If you wait eagerly for quail hunting season to come around every year, then chances are your kids will already know the local quail hunting chapter in your neighborhood as well as you do. The key to knowing when your child is old enough to try out the sport for themselves is through observation, and that’s only possible if you start taking them out with you.
Here are 10 Best Tips on how to get your kid involved in hunting:
- Keep hunting trips short when you have kids along – 45 minutes is a reasonable time in the beginning. If they want to explore and chat, allow them to do so in safety. The experiential nature of the hunt is more important than the end result.
- Emphasize and reemphasize safety, safety, safety.
- Fun first, hunting second.
- Take the right gear, food, drinks and essential items. Many folks can remember their first hunting trips with parents being ruined by only “adult” food being available.
- Don’t set an age limit to when you think a kid should begin showing an interest in hunting or attempt to shoot their first animal. This is one case where the child should have the deciding vote.
- If the weather conditions are harsh, don’t take your kid hunting until they are old enough to handle extreme temperatures.
- Make sure your child has practiced to a competent level with the bow, airgun, or shotgun they are taking with them on the quail hunt. They must have the confidence from having used their hunting equipment successfully in a controlled environment before they are exposed to real hunting conditions.
- Try to find a balance between taking over all the tasks your kid wants to do for themselves and leaving them well alone.
- Never shame your kid for having feelings after taking down their first targets successfully. Use this as an opportunity to have a chat about conservation, animal population management, and how we are continuing in a tradition that is hundreds of thousands of years old.
- Never force your child to hunt. If your kid’s not into it, they can come along for a nature trip and walk in the woods.
I Don’t Have Quail in My State. Where Can I Go to Hunt Quail with My Kids?
Quail populations can be found easily in several U.S. states: Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Carolinas. Altogether, 6 species of quail are native to North America. The various species are similar in size, but individually, each species prefers very different habitats and climates. By encouraging your children to learn a few more facts about the quail in your area, they will be able to hunt them with more knowledge about why they are doing so. Then you can set out to the nearest quail hunting location near you.
Fascinating Quail Facts
- Small groups of quails are called “coveys”; there are no large groups.
- In late spring/early summer, the coveys break up into bonded pairs.
- A quail will spend all its life in the same covey of around 8 – 25 birds.
- Its flight speed is 30mph/50kph to 40mph/65kph
- Quails forage for food twice a day (early morning and mid/late afternoon).
The quail’s favorite food is grains, seeds, and berries, and every species of quail is targeted as prey by hawks, cats (both domesticated and feral) and owls. The nests are preyed on by opossum, snake, skunk, and raccoon.
A quail in the wild will never die of old age. It has a lifespan of less than a year. Quail are low down on the food chain, as are most animals who graze and forage. From the moment the female quail lays an egg, a clock begins the countdown on its survival (an average 75% of the quail population is lost every year in urban environments.
The high mortality rate of quail in populated areas, where they are mainly taken down by domesticated cats, is off-set by the huge broods of quail that flourish in the wild. This is because the animal populations that prey on quail in the wild is declining, plus the fact that a female quail in the wild lays up to 28 eggs in every clutch x 2 a year.
How to Get Your Kids Hooked on Quail Hunting
Going out hunting quail can be one of those formative childhood memories your kids have with them for the rest of their lives. The excitement and butterflies are doubled if you stick to the tried and tested formula parents have been using for years.
Teach Proper Firearm Safety and Etiquette: Teaching your kid about unbreakable gun safety (and bow safety) rules is paramount before setting foot outdoors. Your child should have been on a few hunting trips with you before, so as to make them more familiar with the procedures. When they have two or three hunting seasons with you as a polite and well-behaved observer, then it’s time to introduce them to the hunting tools, gear, and equipment.
If there’s a family history attached to the small BB airgun you hand over to them, all the better. If not, a shopping trip for their very own equipment will be just as exciting. When it’s time to graduate onto more complex hunting tools, in preparation for the real adult hunting environment, give them an unloaded 20-gauge shotgun to see how they handle the upgrade.
If your child shows respect for the rules you are teaching them, you can think about allowing them a chambered shotgun when a covey rises. The child must show an adeptness for hunter safety at every step, and don’t forget to constantly refer them back to real-world gun handling safety 101 all the time.
How to Discern Proper Shooting Lanes: Random shooting at flushing birds is downright dangerous if it’s not done correctly. Be sure to explain the importance of how to discern the proper shooting lanes beforehand. They have to locate other hunters before they move in, never shoot at a bird that doesn’t have the sky horizon underneath them (the Blue Sky Rule), and to stay close to a responsible adult at all times.
Best Places for Beginner Quail Hunters
You might not want to let your child loose on an ordinary quail hunting trip the first time they have a chambered hunt. A game preserve is the perfect environment because it guarantees you some action, the flushes are easier to come by, and the walking part won’t be so hard. Game preserves are also great for when you want to train a hunting dog.
If you are lucky enough to have one in your area, there are quail hunting chapters around that host low-cost hunts for children and parents.
Use This as a Chance to Teach Your Kid Other Skills and Activities
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It should never be just about hunting. Use any outdoor activity as a chance to bond with your kids and have fun. The best thing about hunting for quail is that it doesn’t start and stop at that.
You can turn it into a camping trip and teach your kids how to pitch a tent or have a cook-out. If there’s a nearby water source, you can put fishing on the agenda as well. It’s also possible to set up a mini-target practice and shoot at some stationary targets.
When your kid bags their first quail, the next step is cleaning the bird, and dressing it for eating. You can point out the different internal organs such as the heart, liver, and gizzards. This is the best way to introduce a child to the fact that not everything comes neatly prepared by the butcher.
When you’ve taught your children gun-safety rules and quail hunting, the next activity to learn is pheasant, and maybe even a wild turkey, hunting. But the best thing is being outside with your kids and having fun.
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