Youth hunts: Are they working?

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2013 - 6:07 AM

It’s difficult to measure whether mentored hunts produce hunters. Proponents say any gain makes it worthwhile.

hide

Young turkey hunters gathered with their mentors and parents on a youth turkey outing near Redwood Falls in 2010. A question being asked: How many of those youngsters have bought a hunting license since?

Photo: Photos by Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

High schooler Lorna Wright plans on being in a turkey blind this weekend, hunting gobblers with her dad and brother.

“I’m excited,’’ said Wright. “I really like turkey hunting.’’

Three years ago, Wright, 16, and her brother, Nathan, 15, took part in a mentored youth turkey hunt in southwestern Minnesota aimed at introducing kids to turkey hunting. The goal of the annual youth hunts is to recruit young hunters.

But Lorna and Nathan haven’t hunted turkeys since. High school sports and other activities made it difficult.

“Last year, we didn’t have a chance, we were busy all the time,’’ said Gerald Wright, their dad. “There were just a lot of things going on. They were disappointed.’’

I mentored Lorna at that youth hunt in 2010. Two other kids I mentored at youth turkey hunts in 2008 and 2009 also haven’t hunted gobblers since.

Which raises the question: Do Minnesota’s youth hunts — for turkey, waterfowl, deer and pheasants — work? Do they hook kids on hunting?

The answer: No one knows for certain.

“If I look at kids who went through youth programs five or six years ago, a high percentage of these kids are still purchasing hunting licenses of some type,’’ said Jay Johnson, Department of Natural Resources hunter recruitment and retention coordinator.

“But that doesn’t prove the youth hunt was the key factor,’’ Johnson added. “When people are surveyed, it’s always about the relationship with a parent or another family member who hunts that is far and away the most important factor [in becoming a hunter].’’

“Youth hunts” in the past occurred naturally.

“We’re trying to replicate that with a program,’’ he said. “We’re not sure that’s even possible.’’

A ‘home run’

The youth turkey hunts are sponsored by the DNR and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Tom Glines of Coon Rapids is an avid turkey hunter and senior regional director of the group. He believes the youth hunts accomplish their goal.

“I think it’s still a home run,’’ he said. “I’ve seen and heard the stories [of kids getting hooked on hunting]. The actual percentage of hunters we create, I don’t know. But I hear enough stories that it’s worth it to me, to the National Wild Turkey Federation and the volunteers.’’

Cheryl Riley is a believer, too.

“They are absolutely worthwhile,’’ said Riley, vice president of education and outreach for Pheasants Forever. “The last national survey showed an uptick in hunter numbers. As we become a more urban society, hunting is probably going to decline. But what if we do nothing? At least we are stemming the tide.’’

She said youth hunts are beneficial to Pheasants Forever chapters because the volunteers who conduct the outings feel they are making a difference by introducing kids to pheasant hunting.

  • related content

  • Late spring forces postponement of Minnetonka crappie contest

    Tuesday April 16, 2013

    One of Minnesota’s first open-water fishing contests of the season has been washed out — because of no open water.

  • Lorna Wright, 13, of Vernon Center, Minn., watched for turkeys from her hunting blind during Minnesota's youth turkey hunt last weekend.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist 6 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 7
Toronto 4 Top 8th Inning
NY Yankees 6
Arizona 4 Top 7th Inning
Philadelphia 6
Washington 4 Bottom 7th Inning
Cincinnati 1
Boston 3 Bottom 7th Inning
Tampa Bay 2
San Diego 5 Bottom 6th Inning
Atlanta 0
Oakland 0 Top 5th Inning
Texas 2
NY Mets 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Milwaukee 0
Miami 0 Top 6th Inning
Houston 0
Chicago WSox 7 Top 5th Inning
Minnesota 1
Cleveland 1 Bottom 5th Inning
Kansas City 4
Pittsburgh 0 Top 4th Inning
Colorado 1
Detroit - D. Smyly 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Baltimore - K. Gausman 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Colorado
Calgary 26 FINAL
Edmonton 22
Winnipeg 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Tulsa 77 FINAL
Washington 82
Chicago 76 4th Qtr 0:59
Atlanta 73
San Antonio 61 4th Qtr
Minnesota 65

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which uniform will Kevin Love wear next season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close