A time-honored tradition in the outdoors is for fathers and sons to hunt and fish together. The lessons a son learns from his dad about how to work a lake or a woods will form the foundation of his hunting habits for life. Perhaps most important is the time that father and son get to spend together. In a world that’s overrun with technology and time indoors, hunting provides a priceless opportunity for fresh air and bonding. With so much on the line, a boy’s first hunting trip should be carefully planned.

Prepare Him for the Weather

One of the great things about outdoor recreation is how it can help prepare us for other outdoor activities. Learning how to dress appropriately for the current and expected weather is important for teaching a boy how to be prepared when he must be outside for work or in an emergency. Reviewing a detailed forecast for the day of the hunt and helping your son plan what to wear will not just make for a better day in the woods, it will teach him to do the same when he’s older.

Involve Him in Planning

The weather is just one part of the plan for a hunting trip. All the other aspects of the day—your route to the hunting site, evaluating deer traffic areas, and choosing the location for the tree stand—are just as crucial. If you involve your son in the planning, he will become a better hunter by understanding why you are hunting where you are hunting, and he’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Stress Conservation & Humane Harvest

Modern hunting has been around for centuries, but it has only been sustained through good conservation practices. Young hunters need to understand the importance of obeying tag laws, and they should be taught to make use of the meat that they harvest. Understanding the need for a proper balance of the deer population makes a first-time hunter a better hunter from the very first excursion. He also needs to know how to harvest his deer humanely, which brings us to our final point.

Teach Him about Guns

Most young hunters are not physically strong enough to use a compound bow, so the first hunt is likely to be done with a rifle. Before the date is even set for his first hunt, your boy needs quality instruction and plenty of rounds of practice. When you have enough space at home for a personal range, that’s great, but if you don’t, there are gun shops with safe ranges as well as quality instruction from experienced shooters.

As hunting season approaches, young first-timers need to be getting prepared. They should know how to plan the hunt for safety and success, and to conduct it in a way that ensures that one day he’ll be able to take his own son to the woods.