Youth Hunt

Emma Hoover, Writer

Each year, in the middle of October, students are overjoyed with a three day week.  Some students spend it at home, some students go around town, and some students participate in the annual Youth Hunt. These two days are a free mini-season for kids 12-15 to get a head start at using up their tags.

Hailey Carpenter, a freshman at Capital High, participated in the youth hunt this year. Hailey has been hunting for most of her life and it is one of her main hobbies. She has had a good experience with the youth hunt. On the very first day, Hailey saw a coyote that she said “… looked like a wolf.” Lucky for her, she also saw a lot of deer. Before the day was up she had harvested a mule deer. Although she saw a lot of bucks, Hailey was very happy with her doe. Hailey’s family, also avid hunters, all tagged along to share the experience.

Dwain Hoover, a hunters education instructor at Fish, Wildlife, and Parks had a little bit to say about the Youth Hunt. Growing up in Maryland, Hoover didn’t have a youth hunt. He said he couldn’t wish he had one when he was younger because he didn’t know such a thing existed. However, he really likes the youth hunt.  “I like the idea of youth hunting because there are a lot of people giving it up and if we want this tradition to continue we need to get the youth involved.” Hoover also believes hunting keeps kids out of trouble, especially because the best parts of hunting to him are spending time with family.

There are other opportunities for kids to get out and experience hunting early on. The Apprentice Program is a resource for kids 10 years and older. You don’t have to be a resident of Montana and there are only a few requirements to follow. Apprentices can not obtain a black bear, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, wolf, or elk license. They need to have a mentor come with them on the hunt, but their mentor does not need to be a parent. As long as the adult is 21 or older they may go AND they can hunt when they go with their apprentice. Mentors also have some requirements. They must have a Montana hunting license, already completed hunters education, and they can only bring one apprentice on the hunt at a time. As of 2016, 41 states have some sort of Apprentice program.

For kids in Montana, hunting is an important part of their lives. With the youth hunt and apprentice program, kids have the opportunity to really get the hang of hunting and learn to enjoy the experience.

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