Private Land Youth Hunts Successful
It is not every day a win-win situation comes along, but the recently completed private lands youth deer hunts were just that. Landowners got another tool in managing deer herd on their property and the youth participants got a great opportunity to harvest an antleress deer.
"These private land youth hunts have been a success all the way around," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "They offer a great chance for young people to get exposed to the sport of hunting and they help landowners by balancing out the buck to doe ratio."
Held in October and December, 100 youngsters participated in the hunts which took place in 10 different counties. Most every participant left with a smile on their face and a story to tell, and with a success rate of 70 percent, the majority also left with fresh venison.
"These results show the great potential of youth hunts," Peoples said. "The proposed statewide youth antleress deer hunt could build on the success of these private land youth deer hunts."
The Wildlife Department recently proposed several changes to the hunting regulations for 2003. Most prominent on the list of changes are proposals to add seven days onto the regular deer gun season, and create a special three-day antlerless only youth deer gun season in mid-October. The statewide youth deer gun season proposal is modeled after similar seasons in other states.
"It is important that we do what we can to introduce young hunters to the sport," Peoples said. "This youth deer season would provide a great opportunity for youth to spend time afield."
Peoples added that without the landowners' willingness to allow hunts on their property and the help of dedicated ODWC employees the youth hunts would not have been possible.
"Wildlife Conservation Commissioners Douglas Schones and Bruce Mabrey have really taken a leadership role in ensuring these youth hunts not only took place, but were a success," Peoples said. "And State Representative Jack Bonny of Burns Flat was a great help in coordinating the Ft. Reno youth hunt."
Department officials will be holding public meetings in January across the state to discuss the proposed statewide youth deer hunting season as well as a slate of other proposed regulation changes. To find a list of meeting times and locations, log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlifepublimeeting.htm or call (405) 521-2739.