Kids Receive Special Hunting Opportunities

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Increasing youth involvement in hunting is one of the key goals of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) "Pass It On" program, designed to increase hunting participation in Kansas. The program includes events such as statewide youth seasons and special hunts.

For several years now, KDWP has provided early special youth seasons for deer, waterfowl, upland birds, and turkeys. These seasons provide an excellent opportunity to introduce youth to hunting in an uncrowded and noncompetitive atmosphere.

Youth deer season is open during the last weekend of September and allows youth 12 to 16 years old to hunt deer under the supervision of an adult 21 or older. Youth waterfowl seasons typically open the weekend prior to the regular opening day of duck season in each of the three duck zones. Youth 15 and younger may hunt under the supervision of an adult 18 or older. Youth upland bird season is open the weekend prior to the regular pheasant season opening. Youth 16 and younger may hunt pheasants and quail under the supervision of an adult 21 or older. Youth turkey season is open the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday prior to the regular spring turkey opener. Youth 16 and younger may hunt under adult supervision. The supervising adult may not hunt in any of these seasons.

"Think about it," says Greg Nichols, public land manager for KDWP's Wilson Wildlife Area. "Youth, especially first-time hunters, have relatively short attention spans. They want to see game and have opportunities to shoot. Now compare the likelihood of giving a youngster that high-quality experience one week prior to the regular season or on opening day. Take, for example, upland bird hunting on Wilson Wildlife Area. The last couple of years, we typically get about 10 youth who have the whole area to themselves during the youth season. Those same youth would have to share the area with about 100 to 150 other hunters on the regular opening weekend."

Another component of the "Pass It On" program is the statewide Special Hunts Program. Many public wildlife areas offer special hunts on areas traditionally closed to hunting. Special hunts offer uncrowded, high-quality hunting opportunities and enhanced harvest odds. Hunts include opportunities for waterfowl, upland birds, and deer.

These hunts are available only to those who submit an application for a random drawing. The applications are typically available in mid-June and need to be submitted to the Pratt office by mid-July. There are no additional fees; all that is needed are the appropriate licenses, stamps, or permits.

"It takes a hunter to make a hunter," says Nichols. "I would ask all seasoned hunters in the state to do their part to secure the future of hunting in Kansas by introducing their kids, their neighbors' kids, or any other youth to hunting through these special opportunities. The next such opportunity is the youth spring turkey season, April 9-11. Take advantage of it."