Back in 2001, state wildlife officials mulled a proposal — one that was established by the state legislature — to give youth hunters a day of their own.
Among the ideas that were pondered at the time: Holding a “Youth Deer Day” on the last Saturday of September … or on the traditional residents-only opening day … or on the last weekend of the regular deer season in November.
After much discussion, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife settled on the Saturday before the residents-only day, reasoning that holding such a day later in the season, or too early, made little sense. On Oct. 26, 2002, the first Youth Deer Day was held.
It was a hit, and has continued ever since.
On Saturday, the state will stage its 11th annual day set aside for youth deer hunters. Adult residents will observe their opening day on Oct. 27, while non-resident firearms hunters can begin hunting on Oct. 29. The regular firearms season on deer concludes on Nov. 24 this year.
If a youngster you know plans to take advantage of Youth Deer Day this year, here are a few things you ought to know:
- The hunt is open to junior hunters age 10 years or older, and under age 16, who hold a valid junior hunting license.
- Junior hunters are allowed to take a deer of either sex in Wildlife Management Districts where any-deer permits were allotted. Those districts: 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20-26, 29.
- In all other WMDs, youths are only allowed to shoot antlered deer.
- Youths are allowed to use a firearm, crossbow or bow.
- Any youth shooting a deer is prohibited from taking an additional deer unless that hunter has been awarded a bonus antlerless permit, or unless they participate in the expanded archery season in designated areas.
- The youth must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or qualified adult who is not allowed to possess a firearm.