|September 7 is the last day that 12- to 15-year-old hunters can sign up for one of five special youth pheasant hunts that will be held in Utah this fall.
"We're holding these hunts to increase the interest young people have in upland game hunting," says Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "The hunts are a lot of fun. The kids don't have to compete with dad or older brother for a pheasant and those who have participated in the past have really enjoyed it."
Getting qualified to participate is easy. All that recent 12- to 15-year-old Hunter Education course graduates have to do is complete an application and write a one paragraph essay on:
"I want to continue the Utah upland game hunting tradition because ... " or, "I would like to start my own upland game hunting tradition because ..."
Completed applications and essays must be postmarked on or before September 7 to be considered for one of the hunts. Applications are available on page 23 of the 2001 - 2002 Utah Upland Game Proclamation; at Division of Wildlife Resources offices and hunter education centers; and on the Division's upland game web page at : www.nr.state.ut.us/dwr/upland.htm
Youths also must include their name, address, telephone number or e-mail address, and indicate whether they can attend the morning (8 a.m.) or afternoon (1 p.m.) hunting sessions.
Four of the youth hunts will be held November 10. The four wildlife management areas where the hunts are held will be closed November 10 to all other hunters.
A fifth hunt, on private property in Emery County, will be held September 22 and 23.
The youth hunts will be held at the Willard Bay WMA south of Willard Bay Reservoir; at the James Walter Fitzgerald WMA, about 6 miles north of Vernon; at the Mallard Springs WMA, about 1 1/2 miles southeast of Myton; at the Pahvant WMA, about 5 miles northwest of Fillmore; and on private property in Emery County.
The Mallard Springs WMA hunt will be limited to 50 youths and the Emery County hunt will be limited to 60. The remaining hunts will be limited to 100 youths each.
Each youth who participates will be allowed to harvest two pheasants from a number of birds released on the areas before the hunts.
"We've noticed that the number of youth participating in hunting in Utah has declined significantly over time," Mitchell said. "These hunts are an opportunity to get youth interested in upland game bird hunting by allowing them, without competition from other hunters, to go into the field and experience what it's like to take an upland game bird.
"They also allow us a 'hands-on' way of teaching these youth what it means to be ethical, responsible hunters."
Upon arriving for the hunts, youth hunters will be given a brief presentation about hunter ethics and safety by certified Utah hunter education instructors. After the presentation, youth hunters will go afield and will have two to three hours to harvest their birds.
Once hunters have taken their birds, they will be given a demonstration and presentation about proper game care and field dressing. Hunter education instructors, Division of Wildlife Resources personnel and other volunteers will assist hunters in the game care and field dressing of harvested pheasants.
Each youth must be accompanied by someone 21-years-of-age or older, who is willing to sign a waiver of liability. The person 21-years-of-age or older is the only person who will be allowed to accompany that youth into the field during the hunt.
"Participants who have a trained hunting dog, or dogs, are encouraged to bring them," Mitchell said.
More information about the hunts is available on pages 22 and 23 of the 2001 - 2002 Utah Upland Game Proclamation, or by calling the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the Division's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
The special youth hunts are sponsored by the Division of Wildlife Resources; the Golden Spike and Great Salt Lake chapters of Pheasants Forever; the Salt Lake County Fish and Game Association; and the New Wings, Inc. Commercial Hunting Area.
Copyright © 2001 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.