By KENNETH R. COBB
For The Inter-Mountain
The first of the fall youth hunts will be on Oct. 4. It will be open for resident youths who are at least 8 years old, but no more than 14 years old. Each youth must be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting license and is at least 21 years old.
On this particular day, a youth will be able to harvest six squirrels. The accompanying adult cannot carry a firearm or bow and must remain close enough to the youth to render advice or assistance.
The second of these hunts will be on Nov. 1, when a youth can harvest one antlerless deer. The rules for the accompanying adult are the same as the first hunt.
The objective of these special hunts is to properly introduce young hunters to the challenges and enjoyment associated with sport hunting. A responsible adult should try to show the youngster the proper ethics, firearms safety and sportsmanship that are associated with this noble sport.
I have emphasized in past articles that it isn’t the kill that is really important, but the enjoyment of being outdoors and seeing nature at work. From the information that people have told me, youth hunts have been quite rewarding.
First of all, the number of hunting accidents has dropped dramatically, largely because of the mandatory hunter safety courses that are required for youthful hunters before they can purchase a hunting license.Another reason why hunting accidents have declined is due to the blaze-orange clothing requirement during the deer firearms season.
The future of hunting depends on how well today’s adults can teach the nation’s youth about hunting and conservation. We all know there is a serious effort to abolish this sport nationwide. To counter this movement, several conservation organizations have joined forces to offer youth hunts that are educational, safe and very affordable.
The goals of the state youth hunts are, naturally, to preserve the hunting heritage for present and future generations and, at the same time, instill a basic understanding of practical conservation measures. All adults need to set a good example for youth to follow.
I remember one of the family squirrel hunting trips to Roane County in the late 1950s. My grandfather, father and I went to this certain wooded area that was about 50 to 60 acres in size. There was an abundance of hickory and oak that year. The total number of squirrels we all saw was less than 10. All of us went home skunked or empty-handed. That evening we talked to the landowner who was my great uncle.
He told us that a person came to the same area and killed more than 20 squirrels in one day about 10 days before the season opened. This practice was something my father highly frowned upon. People who do this are not hunters; they’re just thieves. This is the reason why we have conservation officers in this state. When we see this going on, it is the duty of all responsible hunters to report this to these dedicated public servants.
Parents, take your kids hunting; and maybe when they get older, you will not have to go hunting for them.