Youth hunt season gets expanded
Published 11:25 am Monday, November 30, 2009
By By DAVID RAINER
Sitting in the double ladder stand with my godson, Grady, on opening day of the youth deer season recently left me pondering a few items.
For the first time, the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board recommended that the youth season be expanded from the traditional Saturday-Sunday before regular gun deer season to a Friday through Monday season.
With our trip on a normal school day, I was sitting there wondering how many young people had come down with “deer fever” on that day.
I’m not sure the educators would agree, but I and obviously the Advisory Board feel that a day outdoors should be a valuable part of a youth’s education with so many other activities competing for a child’s time.
The other thing that kept popping into my head is how fortunate I am to have two young people in my life who absolutely love the outdoors. The aforementioned godson and my nephew, Tanner, don’t need any encouragement to head into the woods in search of a hunting adventure.
Unfortunately, that is not the case nearly as much these days as when I was growing up. Back then, hunting was a significant part of the culture in the rural South. Although I took a hunter education course as an adult, there wasn’t any such thing when I started hunting.
According to Ray Metzler, Hunter Education Coordinator with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Alabama is fortunate to have laws that allow young people under the age of 16 to hunt before they take a hunter education course.
Metzler and I agree that the best way to introduce a newbie to the outdoors may not be in a deer stand. That’s one of the reasons for the Youth Dove Hunts, which enlists landowners and hunting clubs to host dove hunts all over the state. However, most of those hunts occur well before deer season opens, so if you get the chance to introduce someone to the outdoors through deer hunting, by all means, take them. It will just take a little more effort to ensure the excursion is a pleasurable one.
Metzler said if there is anyway possible, make the young hunter or newcomer feel a part of the group.
It’s also important that seeing deer and possibly taking a deer is the goal, although there are days when the reward is just being outdoors and enjoying nature.
Metzler recommends, if possible, that young hunters be introduced to deer hunting in some sort of shooting house or enclosure.
If possible, Metzler recommends a firearm without heavy recoil or ammunition designed to minimize the recoil.
Visit www.outdooralabama.com for more information on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or to read previous columns by David Rainer.