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.

But no one thinks the events, by themselves, will recruit kids to hunting. Too many other factors are involved.

Numbers down this year

Minnesota’s youth turkey hunt began in 2004 and pairs youngsters age 12 to 17 and a parent or guardian with a mentor. Twenty-nine kids partook the first year. Around 300 kids have participated in recent years.

This year’s hunt is this weekend, but only about 200 kids registered, said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. He can’t explain the downturn.

“We may have hit a saturation point with that age,’’ he said. Or it could be because youths now can buy hunting licenses over the counter. Glines thinks a glitch in the DNR’s electronic application system this year might have caused the downturn.

Regardless, Kurre and Glines are committed to getting more kids involved next year. Meanwhile, parents usually rave about the youth turkey hunts.

“I thought it was really good,’’ said Gerald Wright, who accompanied his kids on last year’s youth hunt near Redwood Falls. “We enjoyed it a lot. It was well worth the time and effort.’’

Despite the difficulty in getting Lorna and Nathan out turkey hunting the past three years, he’s hoping to rekindle their interest this spring.

“I think it’s important for them to get out and do things outdoors and have fun,’’ he said.

 

  • 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

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close