Youth and their parents need to act quickly to participate in numerous opportunities this fall to venture out in field, forest and wetland on hunts specially designed to spark kids' interest and involvement in the outdoors.
"We're on a very short timeline for people to get registered for this fall's youth hunts," said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "But these are opportunities youth and their parents won't want to miss."
Lottery applications for this fall's special youth deer hunts, many of them at state parks, are due Friday, Aug. 19. Applications for the mentored youth waterfowl hunt are due Monday, Aug. 22. The deadline to apply for the mentored upland bird hunt is Wednesday, Sept. 7.
DNR has authorized 12 special youth deer hunts throughout Minnesota. These hunts allow an adult to accompany a youth and assist with planning, scouting and hunting. Adults are not allowed to hunt, or to possess a firearm or bow in the field.
"These hunts, as well as the separate special youth deer season in October, allow adults to focus their attention, knowledge and skills on the youth hunter," Kurre said. "The best way is to learn by doing, and that's exactly the opportunity these special youth hunts provide."
Youth ages 12-15 who want to connect to waterfowl hunting can apply to be one of up to 60 participants in this year's mentored youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday, Sept. 10. DNR teamed up with Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club to provide participants with hands-on education and outdoors experience.
Hunts will be conducted at Hamden Slough near Detroit Lakes, Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris, Sherburne Refuge near St. Cloud, and several locations surrounding the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club in Prior Lake.
Participants are selected in a lottery. Selected youth and their guardians work with an experienced waterfowl hunter.
who does much more than take a youth and a guardian into the field on Youth Waterfowl Day.
Before the adventure, mentors take time to discuss the importance and necessity of habitat, as well as explain and demonstrate waterfowl hunting safety, ethics, techniques and skills.
Much like the waterfowl hunt, the mentored upland bird hunt on Saturday, Oct. 22, at locations across Minnesota gives inexperienced youth and women an unparalleled opportunity for hands-on learning about pheasant and grouse habitat, behavior and hunting. DNR partners with Pheasants Forever, Woodcock Minnesota and the Ruffed Grouse Society to provide experienced mentors for participating youth and their guardians.
To participate, youth must be ages 12-17 and possess a valid firearms safety certificate and purchase valid game licenses. Like the mentored waterfowl hunt, a parent or guardian must accompany the youth at all times, and participate in all hunt meetings and activities. Women 18 and older may participate without a guardian provided they have a valid firearms safety certificate or apprentice hunter validation and all appropriate game licenses.
"Each of these opportunities does much more than provide an opportunity to hunt," Kurre said. "Techniques, skills, safety, ethics, wildlife habitat and animal behavior receive just as much focus, so youth participants and their mentors gain a better understanding and appreciation of the outdoors."