Neither my husband nor I are hunters. But, as our family photo albums will attest, hunting goes back in both my mom’s and dad’s family since they got here from Germany.
Like most farm kids, hunting was a way of life, probably much more for the food it brought to the table than any kind of enjoyment (although I’m sure any break from the normal dairy farm routine was appreciated). It was common to see my dad and brothers cleaning ducks or pheasants they hunted, or hanging a deer from the rafters of one of the farm sheds.
With the availability of food in nice clean plastic packages at every store, does hunting still have a place in today’s family? For many reasons the answer is, yes.
Family togetherness planning the hunt, scouting hunting locations, buying supplies, traveling and, of course, the actual hunting excursions, all provide many chances for families to spend time together. I know that, at least with my family, the memories of these activities are talked about as much as the game that was harvested.
Wildlife appreciation children spend so little time outdoors today, and when they do, it is generally in some type of structured school or community education event. Hunting gives children the chance to observe animals in their native state. For little ones, it may be something as simple as turning over a rock and seeing insects, to hearing the buzz of a bee going by. But, everyone can appreciate the “V” of a flock of geese, trees felled by a beaver, or stumbling (hopefully not literally) across deer sheds along a fence line or hedgerow.
Environmental concerns wildlife is a valuable natural resource, too often taken for granted. On a day spent hunting, children can see how important the environment is to various species. Where would ducks go without that pothole? Why are there fewer pheasants in this area than in the last area we visited? Interacting with the outdoors through hunting exposes kids to the environment. They can see for themselves the importance of conserving all resources for themselves and others.
Sources of our food today, we go to the local market and buy our prepackaged, precooked, or frozen meals with little thought about how and where we actually get our food. Through hunting, a child can see firsthand the critical stages of the food chain and the interdependence of all organisms that go into providing us with our meals. When experiencing the effort of acquiring food through hunting, children can realize how relatively easy we have to compare to our ancestors and those living in less fortunate areas of the world.
These are just a few of the reasons that hunting is a very worthwhile activity for families to experience together.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is a great resource for information on hunting and outdoor activities for kids. Visit them at http://mndnr.gov/discover.