A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Couch to Deer Camp: Bond with your children and instill safety

It’s that time of the year – time to reconnect with your family and friends.

Deer hunting, with all its prep and time spent outdoors, presents opportunities for bonding with your children who are learning the hunting tradition. It’s conversation time to take full advantage of, recommends a Marshfield Clinic Health System pediatrician.

When you help a child prepare for deer hunting, there’s opportunity for one-on-one time,” said Dr. Jeff Clark, a Marshfield Clinic Health System pediatrician. “It’s what I like to call ‘kitchen sink time,’ the time you have every night until the last dish is done. You work on the task at hand and can talk. Information gets shared during kitchen sink time that might not otherwise and it can make your relationship stronger.”

Father and son hunting together

Two fundamentals always apply when teaching children about hunting safety. Know what’s behind your target and treat every gun as if it’s loaded.

It’s the build-up to the hunt that offers parents and kids bonding opportunities while getting their gear together, repairing the deer stand and checking guns and other equipment. What other activities can parents and children do that gives this same opportunity?

“Because of the complexity of hunting – what it takes to get ready and the safety issues that need attention, it’s one activity that affords more opportunities to strengthen parent and child relationships,” Clark said. “A good place to start is by encouraging safe hunting traditions.”

Teach the fundamentals

Most states require youth hunters complete a hunter’s safety course to help them develop safe hunting practices. Course topics may include:

  • Types of ammunition and firearms and how they work
  • Shooting positions and how to carry the gun
  • Information on hunting laws
  • Ethics related to wounded animals and understanding vital shot areas

Two fundamentals always apply. Know what’s behind your target and treat every gun as if it’s loaded.

“Hunter’s safety courses are well-regarded,” Clark said. “But being well-schooled in hunter’s safety and brought up in a hunting family that teaches safe hunting practices won’t guarantee reduced safety risk when guns are in the home.”

Firearm safety at home, during the hunt

Clark offers these safety reminders for families:

  • Storing firearms in the home raises the risk for firearm-related injury or death.
  • Put as many steps between the firearms and their use to help prevent accidents. Keep guns and ammunition locked, preferably in separate areas.
  • Ensure your entire hunting party is on board with your family’s safe hunting practices to provide children with consistent messages about hunter safety.

More information about Wisconsin hunter’s safety is available here. For healthful tips on gun safety in your home, talk with your family’s doctor.

You can do this.

Couch to deer camp provides health information and is not intended to be medical advice. Talk with your doctor prior to beginning a program of regular physical activity.

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