Shed hunting can be challenging and fun, but more importantly, it’s a special way to spend time with your kids. The quest for shed antlers offers parents a chance to pass on our hunting heritage to the next generation and is an occasion to make memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
And few things can compare to when those little hands pick up their first bone.
I will never forget my middle son’s reaction when he walked up on his first matched set of antlers. He jumped up and down, smiled from ear to ear, and couldn’t wait to show his mother. It was an indelible moment.
Shed Hunting With Kids Can Have Its Challenges
It would be dishonest to say my kids enjoy shed hunting as much as I do. Several times, while in the middle of a shed hunt, I’ve heard my kids say, “Dad, I’m bored!” Whether their little feet got tired, stomach felt empty or they were just worn out, some days they’re just not into it like dad is.
Through my many parenting mistakes, I’ve learned it’s best to have some sort of strategy when shed hunting with your kids. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned across the years.
1. Make It An Adventure
Walking together for an entire day can provide insight into your kid’s lives that otherwise might have remained unseen. These times spent in creation are monumental in the development of your child’s character. They should also be times of adventure.
Kids like excitement, so while it’s easy for us to get focused on finding the next big piece of bone, don’t forget to make this an exciting time for your kids.
From the time my boys and I leave the truck until we return, I’m looking for any sort of oddities. Whether it’s colored stones (we actually found a large Opal once), arrowheads, buck rubs, old buildings, or some piece of history, I want to peak their curiosity. Although we are focused on finding sheds, these additional finds help to provide consistent excitement along the way.
While we’re walking, I’ll tell them where Indians camped, why bucks make rubs, or point out certain kinds of trees. Anything to keep them engaged and excited about shed hunting.
Part of the adventure may include, “Guys, check out these tracks.” Then I’ll ask, “What kind of tracks are those?” If they get it right we move on. If not, we get down on one knee and teach them how to tell what animal the tracks belongs to. Doing your best to make shed hunting an adventure will help your kids to both learn and have fun while being in the outdoors.
2. Offer Verbal Affirmation
After several hours of shed hunting everyone gets a little tired. Offering verbal affirmation to your kids will keep their spirits up. Tell them how good they’re doing. Compliment them on how awesome it was they spotted those animal tracks. All kids are different, but every child likes a compliment. Verbal affirmation keeps them thinking positive.
If you see them getting distracted or losing interest, set a positive goal; such as, “Let’s go to that tree over there and have a snack.” However you choose to encourage them, just keep them engaged without pushing them to the point they lose interest altogether. You want them to come back.
3. Bring Lots of Food
I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like to eat. Bring lots of food in your pack along with snacks and drinks. You can even include a surprise snack to earn some ‘brownie’ points. (Pun intended) My kids like Hostess Coffee Cakes, so guess what we take with us when we go shed hunting!
4. Remember They’re Not You
As adults, we often push ourselves to find that next shed. We’ll tell ourselves, “Just one more mile.” The problem with that is, our kids aren’t us. They don’t have the same goals or perception.
That ‘one more mile’ mentality can create a negative experience until the son or daughter isn’t interested in shed hunting with you next time. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.
When shed hunting with your kids, go by their stamina not yours. If that means going back to the truck, then go. Keep the experience positive.
5. Dress Them For The Occasion
This may sound like a rant, but if we can afford to have good hunting gear, then our kids deserve to have quality shoes. Don’t make your kids go for a 5-mile hike with shoes too tight and socks too big. They deserve better than that. Make sure they’re comfortable and have adequate clothing.
To some it may sound like I’m encouraging us to raise a generation of wimps. It’s not that at all. The goal is to make shed hunting fun so they want to come with us the next time.
If you make it fun and about them, they’ll want go shed hunting again. If not, they just might get burnt out — which we don’t want to happen.
Good luck shed hunting and most importantly have fun with your kids.