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How to Mentor a New Hunter

October 16, 2021

Hunting brings families together, helps offset the costs of managing natural federal and state resources, and creates sustainable jobs. To keep that tradition going, there’s always the need to train the next generation of hunters. We’ve put together some tips to help you get started, including past articles on the tradition of hunting, sustainability of hunting, and family togetherness.

Start with Hunter Education

If you plan to take your teenager or another new hunter out this year or next, both Oregon and Washington require that those under 17 years of age pass a hunter safety course. There are online hunter education courses in Oregon and Washington. Find a location near you, call ahead or register online with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Get Your Permits Early

Specific hunting permits can be found online for both Oregon and Washington. Get yours early as there is a limited number handed out every year.

Lead by Example

This can include taking your new hunter out to a shooting range to show them proper gun safety and shooting techniques. While out hunting, be attentive to every move you make so that you can instill proper hunting etiquette and safety. If your new hunter isn’t quite ready for a real hunt, take them with you, but just as an observer. Show them how to track the animals you are hunting, where to aim for the most humane kill, and what to do if you accidentally injure the animal.

Always Talk about Safety

Tell your young or new hunter why you are holding your gun a certain way, or why you are taking extra precautions when crossing a stream or fence line. These lessons will have a lasting effect on their future hunts and participation in the sport. Also, allow them to ask questions and provide the best answers you can.

Focus on the Fun

Hunting is supposed to be about the experience in addition to filling your family freezer. If your new hunter isn’t having fun, ask them how it could be better. Sometimes, something as simple as cold hands or wet socks can ruin a first-time hunt.

Don’t be too Picky

Getting a trophy is great, but your newbie just needs to experience the hunt and their essential first animal. If the game is legal (even if it’s small), allow them to take the shot.

Supply Plenty of Praise

Whatever the outcome, find reasons to give the new hunter plenty of kudos. Tell them what they did right during the hunt before sharing what they could do better next time. If they do come home with their first animal, take a few photos in the field as a memento.