Youth Bird Seasons on Tap

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The youth bird seasons established as part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks “Pass It On” program are just a few weeks away. Waterfowl youth openers are October 4-5 for the High Plains and Early Zone and Oct. 11-12 in the Late Zone. Waterfowl numbers are expected to be good this fall. Upland bird youth season is Nov. 1-2, and it looks like bird numbers will be up from last year. A youth/disabled deer season will also be conducted Sept. 27-28.

Anyone thinking about introducing a young person to hunting will have an excellent opportunity this year if they plan ahead. Two things need to be done prior to the season opener: the youth must complete a hunter education course and practice shooting. To find out where the closest class is available, contact any local Wildlife and Parks office or visit the department website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us. Introduce the youth to shooting by going to a range or other safe place and teach them basic shooting skills. Mike Nyhoff, manager for Glen Elder Wildlife Area, says he would like to see a better turnout at his area for the youth upland bird season:

“The first youth season, when adults could also hunt, we saw a real good turnout, but subsequent seasons where adults could not hunt have not produced that many youth,” Nyhoff explains. “Glen Elder Wildlife Area boasts a great pheasant population this year. Last year, the area attracted nearly 700 hunters for the regular opening weekend but only about 60 for the youth season.

Rob Unruh, manager for Jamestown Wildlife Area, makes the same observation for waterfowl hunters on his area. Youth can hunt geese and ducks throughout the state during the youth waterfowl seasons, and some great opportunities are being missed. “Kids are the future of hunting,” says Unruh, “and it is such a great pastime for kids and adults to spend time together.”

All public wildlife areas, WIHA tracts, and private land (with permission) will be open for the youth seasons. For the upland bird and deer seasons, any youngster 16 or younger is eligible. For the youth waterfowl season, the youth must be 15 or younger. Adults cannot carry a firearm in any youth season but must accompany and supervise them. This is also a chance for hunters to exercise their bird dogs and scout WIHA or public hunting areas before the regular season opener.