Wyoming State Hunting Championships May 8th

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Of all high school state championships - football, golf, soccer, speech/debate, track and field, etc. - none are more "Wyoming" than the state hunting championships.

The Youth Hunter Education Challenge, as its officially called, will be held May 8 in Upton and young hunters do not need to qualify in a regional or district tournament to compete. All Wyoming and South Dakota youth 18 and under who have passed hunter education are eligible to showcase their hunting skills and probably learn a little.

The challenge tests youngsters in sporting clays style trap shooting, .22, muzzleloader and archery marksmanship, wildlife identification, orienteering and hunter safety judgments. "The challenge is designed to be a fun event for all participants - not just the winners," said Jim Dawson, the Game and Fish's hunter education coordinator.

This is the third year the challenge has been hosted by the Upton Gun Club and officially sanctioned by the National Rifle Association. Winners in both age categories - 15-18 and 14 and under - are eligible to advance to the international competition to be held July 26-30 at a top-notch shooting complex near Mansfield, Pa.

In addition to the department and the gun club, the challenge is sponsored by the Wyoming Friends of the NRA and a variety of Wyoming businesses. All participants receive a prize for competing

In the spirit of interstate cooperation, South Dakota young hunters can also participate in this challenge for the right to represent their state at the international competition. "Because Upton is close to the border, we're teaming up with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and holding their challenge at the same time," Dawson said.

He adds that although the youngsters from both states will take part in the same tests, they will not be competing against each other. Winners will be crowned from both states.

To participate, youngsters need to submit copies of their hunter education card, birth certificate, photo and pay a $10 entry fee. Entry forms are available at the Game and Fish Web site and offices and must be submitted by April 30.

For more info, call the Game and Fish's Jim Dawson or Jeff Obrecht at (307) 777-4600 or Rick Rothleutner of the Upton Gun Club at (307) 281-9980.