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7 Tips for a Successful Youth Duck Hunt

Shane Smith

young duck hunters Ed Wall Lost Brake
photo credit: Ed Wall/Lost Brake

As the regular duck season is drawing to a close, most states will have a youth day that only persons under the age of 16 can hunt. This is a great time to get the kids in the woods or on the water and let them enjoy the action without adult interference.  I still remember being in a homemade wooden pirogue that my dad drug me around in among the flooded timber of northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas. Little did I know that at a very young age this would set the groundwork of a passion for waterfowling that burns in me still to this day.  

So, let’s go over a few things to make your next youth hunt a success.  

1. Safety 

Sure we are all there to have a good time, BUT you really need to hammer home gun safety. That shotgun doesn’t know if it is shooting at a human or a duck. I always try to get the kids together before the hunt, shoot skeet, and really go over proper gun handling and safety. With gun safety, there are NO second chances.  

2. Make them comfortable

When I was a kid, they did not make youth hunting clothes or boots. But now, every major brand has a full line of kids hunting gear.  When you take kids hunting, it is not to bear the elements and show them what a real hunter is made of. Carry adequate clothes and hand warmers for them to ensure they have a good time even if the birds do not participate. Small things like stools, chairs and seat cushions go a long way in keeping a youth comfortable and happy.

3. Make it fun

This hunt is all about them, not you. Let the youth tell stories, cut up a bit and blow a duck call or two. Let them play with feathers from dead ducks and count birds in passing flocks. You want them to have good memories afield and want to come back for more. Kids will want to take a ton of pics to show their friends or parents later. Try to take some cool action shots or candids of the kids cutting up. When it is all over, everyone will certainly want to see them. 

Shane Smith kids duck hunt

4. Be Patient

Many of these young men and women are not accustomed to being in the duck woods or water. Be mentally prepared for that up front. Young hunters are going to move, talk and fidget at the worst possible times. That is all part of it, so do not lose your cool and be grumbling and griping. Kids very well may shoot a decoy or two and that is part of it. I am sure we all have peppered a few dekes while we were up-and-comers too.  Teaching them also involves teaching you how to be patient and making some great memories at the same time.

5. Food

Whatever you do, do not forget some snacks!  I like to stop by the store and let the kids get a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit or whatever they like, along with some candy bars for later. I always make sure to have plenty of hot chocolate on hand no matter what. Kids burn through food quickly, and you want them to enjoy the hunt and not be hungry as a hostage.  

Shane Smith kids duck hunting

6. Weather Changes

Be prepared for sudden weather changes. We all know how fast the weather can change, so carry extra gloves, jackets and most importantly rain gear. I try to pick days when I know there is zero chance of lightning when taking youth hunting.  

7. Not all will like it

Be prepared that not all kids are going to like hunting. Some won’t like the getting up early or seeing the birds bleeding and dying. Other youth may instantly fall in love with the sport and hunt the rest of their lives. Just do not take it too seriously until they are ready for it.  

Watch: Lost Brake – The Kids 

I am very lucky and grateful to my father, uncles and family friends that always made sure I had a way to go duck hunting. I hope these tips will help you next time you decide to take some kids out on a duck or goose hunt.  
Remember, it is their hunt and not yours, so make it one to remember. 

Mack's Mossy Oak duck hunting gear

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