Introducing kids to duck hunting

Remember, hunting is supposed to be fun!

Here's some good advice on getting your kids started right from our friends at Outdoor Empire.  

Rules, Opportunities and Tips for Youth Waterfowl Hunting in North Dakota

It is hard to beat a morning full of ducks and geese finishing nicely in your decoys. Those are the days that hunters live for and they are a great opportunity to get new hunters hooked on the sport.

Especially for young hunters, the consistent action is a good way to prevent boredom and lack of focus. North Dakota encourages kids to start hunting as soon as the individual is ready, so it falls to the parents to determine when that time is. This article will look at what requirements the state does have for youth hunters, the opportunities they provide in regard to youth waterfowl hunting, and some tips for when and how to get your kid started.

State Age Requirements

As mentioned above, there is no age minimum in North Dakota for youth hunters. However, kids of any age that are going to be hunting are required to have the appropriate license to do so. They must also be supervised by their parent or guardian, or an adult authorized by the parent or guardian. Once they reach the age of 12, they are required to pass hunter education to continue hunting.

Getting Them Going

In states where they have a minimum age requirement, a more obvious norm develops for when to get kids started. Since that norm does not exist so clearly in North Dakota, you must look for signs that your kid is ready to start.

Them showing interest in going along is the first step. Usually, this happens pretty early on for kids of hunting parents. Showing them the birds after a successful day, taking them out on a scouting mission and teaching them how to shoot with an airgun are all good ways to encourage interest.

During those practice sessions with the airgun or youth shotgun, focus on safety and ethics and monitor how responsive they seem to be to those lessons. Safety will be the biggest factor when it comes to their readiness.

If you bring them along to look for birds outside of a hunt or even during a hunt, see how their patience and durability is. If they lose interest quickly, it might be best to wait another year or two to get them involved. If they stay interested and keep asking to go more, the timing might be right.

Youth Opportunities and Making the Best of Them

North Dakota gives youth hunters the chance to hunt waterfowl the weekend before the regular season opens. This provides lots of benefits to the youth hunters. We all know that some of the best days of waterfowl hunting are when the weather is not that great, these early days have a better chance of being more pleasant weather-wise.

We also know that the action is better when the hunting pressure is lower and the birds have not been getting shot at and educated by other hunters. The fact that the kids get the first chance at birds in the area should mean more ideal conditions for having good action.

Another benefit of the early season is that it should be easy to find adult hunters that are interested in going along to help with gear, calling and coaching. By September, most passionate waterfowl hunters are more than ready to get out in the blind, and even though they are not allowed to shoot, getting kids involved is rewarding for many.

In addition to bringing along other experienced hunters, the following are some ways to make the hunt more enjoyable:

  • Pack a fun lunch and snacks to raise energy and spirits
  • Dress them to stay warm and dry
  • Give them binoculars to spot and identify birds
  • Encourage them to ask questions and learn
  • Be patient with their misses and mistakes
  • When they are ready to be done, head home


Hunting is supposed to be fun. Some of the things that adults regard as fun when it comes to hunting are somewhat “acquired tastes.” Making some special accommodations for your youngster will help get them hooked, and over time you can develop their endurance and seriousness.

Do not put too much pressure on them to start and you should avoid burning them out on hunting at an early age. If you can get them hooked, you will learn the joy of getting a new young hunter into a great and wholesome hobby.

Ready to get started?  

Prairie Smoke Ranch is offering free youth hunts in 2018. We are looking for four parents or grandparents serious about introducing their child or grandchild to the wonders of waterfowling. Join us in North Dakota for a fantastic duck camp experience on Sept 14-16, 2018. We are offering this Waterfowl Weekend at no cost to four youth hunters and their guardians. See for details.

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