Parents, let's discuss the ethics of our kids' first kills...

backcountry_hunter

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every kid I've ever met and discussed this with (which is many, used to be involved in a special youth season) always has a pipe dream of shooting a big whatever for his/her first animal and literally everyone hasn't hesitated to pull the hook on a button buck when it was in front of them.

went through it with my son, his goal for his first was going to shoot a bigger deer than dad's (from the year prior) and then miss slick head showed up and he turned her heart into spaghetti. The only thing I had to talk him out of was mounting it.
 

flatlanderhuffandpuff

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I'm not reading all that.

The biggest thing I think about with my kids is them being able to make the decision that they want to for themselves. Killing an animal is a big thing that requires emotional intelligence to properly handle. I want to make sure they can wrap their heads around what it means to kill and why we do it.

We raise animals for meat and they have seen me kill various animals. They know why I hunt and that the meat on the table was once running wild and free. It is one thing to know that be ok with but another thing entirely to pull the trigger on a living thing.

If your kids are willing to do any kind of hunting with you just make sure it is safe, legal and have a blast. You only get one chance to have them fall in love with hunting.
 

finner

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Yeah I'd agree that letting them shoot the first animal that walks out is the only thing that makes sense. I grew up in a meat hunting family, and I knew it was my responsibility to shoot the first cow that walked in front of me. Because of that, I still get very excited whenever I'm into elk, regardless of whether there's a 350 bull there or not. Same goes for deer, antelope, what have you. I imagine that I have a better time in the woods than the kid who was only focused on big bucks, and I plan to tell my kids that if it moves, it dies.
 

KoolBreeze

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You should absolutely instill your values in your kids; that's what good parents do. That goes for hunting and most everything else. Sure there will come a time when they have to chose their own road but that time isn't now.

That said, I don't have an issue with hunting over bait. As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was illegal to hunt over bait. It was also illegal to kill does with a rifle. My family mostly hunted deer with dogs and actually killing a deer was rare. We spent most of our time looking for dogs, not deer. But we had a wonderful time doing it and many lifelong friendships resulted from it. I don't hunt that way any longer but lots of folks still do.

It didn't take me long to figure out the best way to fill the freezer was with a bow and arrow. One reason was does were legal with a bow and another was there were very few bow hunters in my area back then, which meant not much pressure and lots of opportunities to kill deer. So I killed a lot of them with a bow back then. But the rules/laws were eventually changed to allow us to kill does with a rifle and within the last few years, to hunt over bait. So guess what, i hunt over bait with a rifle when I'm looking to fill my freezer. To me it's not much different than hunting a food plot, a corn field, or an acorn tree; all are food sources. Yeah, yeah, some are more natural than others, I get that, but my goal when trying to fill the freezer is to .... well, fill the freezer. If I'm hunting a mature buck out of the rut, then I'd use different tactics.

I can't recall the last time I even shot a bow, let alone killed a deer with one. That's mostly because I hate ticks and mosquitos, both of which everywhere here during the early bow seasons and I can fill my freezer without it now. But I have friends that still hunt with a bow exclusively because they enjoy it. I think that's great but I choose to hunt with a rifle.
 

wind gypsy

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I have taught all of my kids the importance of shooting a mature animal (male or female). If it’s mature and steps out while we are hunting and they want to shoot it, they are free to do so. Only time immature animals are free game is if it’s a button buck, spike, or a lame/wounded one. My kids sit with me until I feel they are old enough to sit and hunt by themselves. When they have progressed to hunting by themselves (which the two oldest have) they have yet to harvest an animal that I myself would not shoot. I have no issue at all that their 1st deer are mature animals and trophies.

Curious why just a button buck or spike and not a doe or basket rack? Deer populations struggling around you?
 
OP
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IN_Varmntr

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Thanks to everyone who responded here. I spent a few days with my 6 year old this week in a blind, a stand and on the ground chasing deer but came up empty. It didn't seem to bother him, he was plenty occupied carving his wood pieces we gathered as we walked through the woods.

One takeaway I got from reading everyone's replies is that I'm looking at the scenario as a 34 year old dad and not as a 6 year old boy. As someone said above, instilling our values in our kids is what good parents do, and admittedly I struggle with communicating those values in ways that are discernable to a 6 year old. That said, sometimes when I don't think he's grasping things he will bring it up later in a manner which shows he clearly understood it.

One common reply was that I was overthinking it and worrying too much. I understand that mentality and it is something I try not to do. However, I feel that many problems today's youth and young adults struggle with is largely due to a lack of solid moral, ethical and parental guidance. I suppose part of being a parent is building that foundation but knowing where to let them begin taking over building the rest of the house, with your help of course. I still rely heavily upon my dad for many things but without a doubt am who I am today because of him. I've encountered college aged kids in my job that have never been shown which end of a screwdriver to use, how to use a battery powered drill or even the how to use a ratchet. That's crazy.

We've read stories to our boys since they were still in the womb, and have been through Kevin Lovegreen's Lucky Luke's Hunting Adventures series numerous times as well as other hunting books geared towards kids. I've also retold the stories from the bucks I've mounted and does I've had tanned that hang on their bedroom walls numerous times. We also raise and butcher a multitude of animals so it's not like they're new to the process. I do like the idea of tanning a hide ourselves and making a drum, and will look into other projects we can do with deer hides. That's a great recommendation.

As for the baiting idea, I've always been firm on not using bait piles for me but am genuinely curious to strike up a conversation with my son and see where it leads.

I know it was brought up about there being no difference between a pile of corn and a food plot, and I've seen that said many times in the past. I do not share this belief as there is quite a difference in my opinion. With a bait pile, you pour a bag of corn (or whatever bait you want) on the ground. With a food plot there's clearing ground, prepping the soil, selecting and planting seed at the right times, protecting it until is well established and the maintenance that is involved with it all. The idea of a full circle of preparation, hard work and reward (the growth of seed and the kill) is engrained in me and I will try to do the same for my kids.

Again, I realize how subjective this discussion is and thank everyone for replying!
 

hh76

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As for baiting, I do agree with you for the most part, but I still don't mind it for young kids. Its a small source of excitement during a boring sit. I remember flinging arrows at squirrels with my 10lb bow when sitting with dad. I remember how exciting it was to watch a doe eating only 15yrds away.

Then, when we were older and had a deer or two under our belts, it was almost a rite of passage to get away from the bait pile and try to hunt deer like the older guys in our group.
 

49ereric

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Shoot what nature-the deer family offers you.
bait is for hunters who can’t tell where the deer will be on any given day.
weather conditions dictate this. Takes years to learn on your own.
 

cbeard64

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If you don’t want to use bait, then don’t. That’s just a personal choice just like what caliber to use or clothes to wear. If you want to give them more opportunity by using bait, then use it. It’s not going to scar them for life or lock them into hunting over bait forever.

I would never make a kid pass on any legal deer they wanted to take for their first deer. Just hunt and let them guide your decision. It’s hard for me to imagine a kid not being excited to take any legal deer for a first deer unless some serious indoctrination about what they “should” be doing has been going on based on a parent’s own preferences.

Making them pass on a small buck or doe they would like to take seems cruel to me.
But making them pass on a nice buck seems especially cruel. Why can’t a kid shoot a nice buck? What lesson does that teach except that they are somehow not as “worthy” as others?

I agree with others that there is more than a little overthinking going on here by many. Take them hunting, relax, have fun, and let whatever happens happen.
 

tgus59

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Bait is illegal in Iowa, so I don't really have any thoughts there. I've never used it, and probably never will.

I killed my first deer when I was 10, and it was important to me to get a buck. I didn't care about the size, just wanted some antlers. I ended up shooting a fork buck with 1 small brow tine, and was thrilled.

In my opinion, it is your job to preach safety and fun, and your kids job to choose what and when to shoot.

Their relationship with hunting is their own. Be a good example, make it fun, and let them make their own path, and form their own ethics.
 

Gman12

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Way overkill on the overthinking part of all this. The fact is that it is very possible that one, two or all of your kids may not even like to hunt. Or they might all like to. No way of telling at this age. The important part for kids is that they have fun. Their attention span is going to be minutes, not hours. I took my son with me deer hunting at a very early age and quickly found out that he would be "into it" for only a short while. We had just as much fun having sword fights with sticks, throwing rocks in the water, splashing around in swamps as we did actually hunting. Kids also need action. Something like squirrel, dove or duck hunting where there is more shooting or more moving is better for kids. Sitting in a blind or treestand for endless hours is boring as hell even for me as an adult and is a sure fire method of turning a youngster against hunting.
 

Rich M

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Teach him how to hunt, let him make the calls, see what happens. If he gets pissy later on in the season, put him on some does and see what happens.

Hunting is supposed to be fun but some jackasses made it a competition so they could feel better about themselves.
 

Sled

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You just need to worry about if your kids first kills are neighborhood pets. If not, take the kid hunting and make sure they enjoy the outdoors. Try to stave off the instant gratification expectation. Hunt how you want to and enjoy the age. They grow up fast.
 

30338

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Started mine on prairie dogs and rabbits. I liked rabbits best as they helped clean and cook them. That seemed to really get them hooked. Plus I had a spot with a lot of rabbits so it got them a lot of action and success. Think bluegill fishing but hunting version.

Then I got them hooked on game by having them shoot does a few times. Also had them on antelope early. Another high success, high action type hunt.

Now they can sit for 10 hours, hike for 10 hours, or do whatever is needed to be successful. And they have been very successful.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Let the kids hunt over bait. The deer still have a say on if and when they will come in. The deer still have their eyes, ears, and nose. And if you get busted, there is a great lesson there.

On a related note, if you are anti-bait do not bring anything pleasant smelling. Have had plenty of deer come in when they smelled Gator Aid. Hunted with a guy that killed a 192" mule deer that came in twice when it smelled homemade berry pie; stilled ticked he took that pie -- it was damn good.

Personally, I do not believe it is fair to teach a child that there is only one way, my way, and everyone else is wrong. There are a lot of legal ways to hunt. Absolutely discuss with the child about the legal options, the potential positives and negatives, and if there are any perceived ethical issues. Be opened minded yourself as you may learn something new that may change your mind a wee bit.

Side note: Am curious how many anti-baiters hunt over/near water out West when it is hot or hell, even when it is cold (ex: archery --> hunt over water cause you're in the desert).
 

String&stick

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So this is from someone who self elected to take a survey and get roasted on this forum for some of my thoughts/ideas on kids and deer hunting so take it with a grain of salt!

1. If not baiting is important to you, then don't bait. Thousands of kids grow up in states that don't allow baiting and manage to still love hunting. To me personally baiting is not fair chase. I don't care where you are, how thick your brush is or what have you, your putting food out there to attract deer and pattern them. Food plots and corn fields I view differently as the field or plot is normally there for multiple years, it's available for much of the year, and isn't a pinpoint spot, deer could come in and still be out of range, etc. If its a strong opinion for you, explain it to your kid and explain why, he will be fine!

2. If you have rules on deer then have rules on deer. Just accept that not everyone will agree with you and many will outright tell you how wrong you are. You are raising 3 boys that will become men. You want to raise them so you can be proud of them both in the woods and out of the woods. Rules are a part of their lives, a few for what deer to shoot won't hurt them.

3. Making them pass deer isn't cruel or mean, it's life. Do you make them wait to eat cookies so they don't spoil supper? Will you make them do chores and homework before they play games? Of course you will. Explaining why you pass on deer is simple and they will understand.

Are you overthinking it? Maybe but that's because you care!
My sons first years of rifle hunting he knew the following rules.
#1. We don't shoot muley does or fork horns. Our muley population is lower and we have this agreement with several neighbors to make sure bucks are getting to at least 2.5 years old (adults arent shooting them till they are older)

2. Whitetails are fair game doesn't matter how small they are. We have lots of them and some will make it to maturity regardless.

3. And this is the one I got roasted for and I'm fine with that I see people's point. If a true monster comes out, I'm probably going to shoot it. . . I didn't want him spoiled with his first deer. And with him hunting now, I'm probably only shooting one if it's big because he'll tag 2 bucks and a doe or two a year! Now when he's sitting by himself in a few years he can shoot what he likes with the exception of the muley rule.

People thought I was terrible, a few said maybe I shouldn't of had kids, but guess what. My son (12) LOVES hunting, he likes the rules in place. He also has already shot deer of a caliber that I didn't kill till I was in my late twenties! But his first was a small basket buck, and he's mixed in several does. I can honestly say he was just as excited this year about his doe he shot as he was about the muley he just got back from the taxidermist! Now he probably won't remember her as long but he was shaking, excited, and thrilled to walk up on her!

Just do you! Some people raise their kids republican, some raise them democrats, in the end when their brain develops they will make their own decisions, but you will give them a foundation to make those decisions off of. As long as your not going to write one of them out of the will if they bait deer when they are older I don't think you need to worry!
 

BeastOfTheTrees

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I think this day and age everyone is too wrapped up in ethics of everything. Half the reason we have all these societal issues in my opinion.

Hunting I try to keep extremely simple for my kids.

It’s ancestral to us as a species. We kill to get the best nutrition available for our bodies. The activity teaches us about the real world and keeps us strong mentally and physically. That’s it.
 

roadrunner

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As others have said, just go have fun. These years will slip away and there's plenty of time over complicate things elsewhere.
 

Citizen

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Having a good time is imperative, as is learning how to hunt. Teaching hunting also includes:

hiking, packing, how to dress yourself for weather, a bit of forestry, entomology, rivers and lakes, canoe etc.

Doing all the prep and slapping a gun in a child’s hand and having them jerk the trigger makes them think they are capable in the out doors when they aren’t at all. It all starts with being outdoors to begin with. Hunting is just one activity.
 
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