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December 26, 2006

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Discussion Topic: Who's Old Enough to Hunt?

From Kentucky's News-Democrat & Leader:
Young hunters in the Bluegrass State are the most recent to benefit from the Families Afield program after the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission passed two measures to open doors for young hunters.
The first measure establishes a one-year, non-renewable exemption from hunter education classes when the novice hunter is accompanied by an adult mentor. The mentor must be a licensed hunter at least 18 years old. The second measure raises the age at which young hunters must take a hunter education course prior to hunting from 10 to 12 years old.

Families Afield legislation is creating new opportunities for young hunters in several states, including Michigan and Ohio, where more than 27,000 apprentice licenses have been sold. Part of the mission is to let parents--as opposed to states--decide when a youngster is old enough to hunt.
Do you think this is a good idea? How old were you when you started hunting? Do you think you could have safely started earlier? At what age will your kids be old enough to hunt?


Trent M.

I don't know about everyone else, but I wasn't allowed to carry a firearm into the woods until I was 13 years old. I went along, but I never took my own gun. Started shooting at 10, put 3 years in, and got to hunt.

Kristine Shreve

We've discussed this in several places, including our company blog. I think parents are the best suited to judge when a child is ready to hunt. Some may be ready at six, others won't be ready at sixteen. A lot depends on the personality of the child.

Some kids take instruction well and will understand the need to be careful with a firearm. Other kids won't have the same understanding. A parent will know the best way to give instructions to the child so that they comprehend.


Kristine is right: I was "tested" by my Dad (farm boy)when I was 10 or 11, plinking tin cans with a .22.
Maybe 14, with a Hunter Safety course, before I was sent into the barn to shoot rats. I wouldn't hand a gun of any sort to some 60-yr olds!


While I do think parents should choose when their kids are old enough to hunt, I probably should point out that had it been entirely up to my parents I'd have never been allowed. There was some value in having the state backing me up when I insisted to my folks that I was indeed old enough and responsible enough to hunt.


Growing up in NY, I had to wait until I was 16 to hunt big game. That's crazy. I don't have a major problem with the state setting an age minimum--as long as it's reasonable.

Lee B.

Missouri has this one figured out pretty well I think...
We have Youth seasons prior to the major seasons (Deer and Turkey)
The child must be younger then 12 (the age required for the hunters safety course) and accompanied by an adult. I was too old to participate, but I have buddies and cousins that had the opprotunity to accompany and hunt with their fathers.
The only real problem with this is we also have a bunch of hooser dads taking advantage. 4-5 year old kid who just happen to kill these monster deer are showing up every year.

Personally though, no one has any place telling me how old my child should be in order to hunt or shoot a gun. States should at least remove the age restrictions and class requierments for the tests. I slept through most of mine and still got a 100%, but was taught hunters safety by my dad since I was 8.

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