Until three or four decades ago, it was common to see the adults taking their children along during the wildlife hunting season. It is interesting to note that in recent years parents and relations have begun to encourage children between the age of 10 and 15 to join them on deer hunting expeditions. Children love it because this gives them an opportunity to get out of the confines of the four walls of their homes. To popularise deer hunting, many states have also begun to organise special hunts for school children through the state’s fish and wildlife department during spring break.
Why Deer Hunting: Catching Them Young
- Instead of entrusting children in the custody of unknown mentors during the deer hunt, it is much safer if an experienced family member initiates a child into the joys of deer hunting, and also enjoying the great outdoors. This helps in family bonding and a chance to share what they love to do. In the process, the children learn a great deal about nature and environment conservation when out hunting in state natural parks, private farms and recreation areas.
- Rules and regulations about youth deer hunting vary from country to country, and also within the country. In Wisconsin in the US, for example, it is easy to take children on a deer hunting expedition. The State rules prohibit any child less than 10 years of age to take part in hunting. The child hunter must have appropriate and valid hunting license, permits and tags, and must follow the hunting laws and bag limits. One special requirement is that the child hunter “must hunt within arm’s reach of a ‘mentor’ regardless of the hunter’s age or the mentor’s age.” Also, only one firearm, bow or crossbow can be possessed jointly between the hunter and the mentor.
- There are separate set of rules for hunting for the ‘mentor’. Now, most adults allowed to accompany a youth on deer hunt must be at least 25 years of age, and “must be the hunter’s parent or guardian, or have the permission of the hunter’s parent or guardian before acting as a mentor for a person under age 18.” The mentor must have a current year’s hunting license. The mentor is allowed to serve as a mentor for only one child hunter at a time.
- In recent years, several good organisations have been set up to educate youth deer hunters, and prepare them to become responsible adult hunters. The idea behind strict rules and regulations is for the safety of the youth and others. After all the young persons are novice at this game, and have just begun to handle firearms. This calls for extra caution, training and guidance. This helps ensure that the outings would not only be safe, but provide enjoyment and relaxation to the hunter and all those around.
- The organisations involved with the youth deer hunt training programs require that a young person must take an orientation class, one for the archery hunt and one for the firearms hunt. These institutions also require that to attend the classes, the aspiring young hunter must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or any other adult with authorization provided by the parent of the youth. The young trainee hunter should also have a current and valid certificate for Firearms Safety.
- As we know that people all over the world have begun to lead a sedentary lifestyle, and are increasingly opting to stay indoors for long periods. This has resulted in several lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart problems. Such diseases have also begun to hit young people who are even below 30 years of age. Children are increasingly getting hooked on to not only the internet and computer games, but also to alcohol, drugs and other dangerous activities. The deer hunting hobby helps take the children from indoors to the great outdoors, and keeps their mind and body healthy by diverting their attention to the challenging and exciting task of hunting.
- In many areas, the deer hunting is encouraged because the forest areas, parks, and private lands suffer of deer predation owing to their large numbers. A whitetail deer that is healthy can consume up 9 pounds of vegetations in one day, according to the USDA. Private land owners complain that their shrubs, grasses, orchards, and ornamental trees suffer a great deal when the deer invade for food. The deer that are unable to find food they need owing to the fencing around private lands, die of starvation, or possibly even injury and/or disease.
- Herein lies the need for encouraging young people to take to deer hunting, and for the youth to understand the important relationship between man, animals and nature. The young people should understand why the culling of deer is regarded as ethical hunting. The culling helps curb the deer population, and reduces pressure weighing down on the environment. This, in turn, allows different plant species (and other animal species), birds, insects, and smaller mammals to survive and flourish. Deer culling also helps protect tree saplings in the forests and parks from deer predation.
The lessons learned while on a deer hunting expedition helps young people to develop a disciplined and ethical outlook towards life. As someone put it so aptly, the ethical hunting is doing “the right thing” when nobody else is watching. Thus ethical hunting becomes a state of mind that benefits the entire society.
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