Survey: Most Believe Youth Hunters Should Be at Least 10 Years Old

February 5, 2018 | by National Deer Alliance

While almost 70% of those who responded to our recent survey indicated that a parent or guardian should decide when a child should be old enough to hunt, most feel that youth should be at least 10 years old. While 33% indicated that 10 years old was an adequate age for hunting with a firearm, 29% feel the same about hunting with a bow or crossbow. Interestingly, respondents feel that youth should be a little bit older before heading to the woods with a bow or crossbow with 40% saying kids should be at least 12 years old, or older. Comparatively, only 24% said the same about hunting with firearms.

Most who provided reasons for the older age for archery cited the strength necessary to pull an adequately weighted bow. “I feel they need to be strong enough to shoot a bow set at 50 pounds to take game quickly,” said one person. Another said, “Most kids cannot handle a bow at a young age, and we need to keep in mind not to wound game. Most kids get too excited to make a good shot with bow on game. We owe it to animals we hunt to make quick kills.”

When it comes to youth hunting with a firearm, many felt the question does not have a right or wrong answer as ability and maturity vary greatly among kids. One person stated, “Really depends on the maturity of the child I know some adults who shouldn’t be carrying a firearm due to lack of common sense.” Another said, “I spoke to two kids this weekend at the WV Hunting and Fishing Show that harvested their first deer at the age of five and were eager to tell me all about it.”

One thing that the majority agreed on (68%) is that parents or guardians are in the best position to decide when a child is ready to hunt with a firearm or bow. As one person put it, “There is no credible reason for the government to control what age someone should be to learn the skill of hunting.” Still, some are more skeptical. “I do think there are many hunters out there who can responsibly mentor their children to be safe and successful hunters, however, there are also many that cannot. I know in Michigan we have a youth hunt, and there are several who go out and shoot a deer (weeks before the rest of us get out there) and then put their kid’s tag on it.”

Finally, most seemed to agree that age limits should not vary when it comes to hunting deer, or any other game. Still, many cautioned that hunting is a serious matter, and good mentoring is important no matter what the hunter’s age is. “Taking a life, no matter how big or small, should be a serious matter and well explained to the child. There is no undo button in life,” cautioned one respondent.