Opportunities endless for youth hunters

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For some families, hunting is a way of life. It is an annual event that many adults look forward to sharing with their children or other youths.

Opportunities for youth hunters are endless.

Randy Hampton, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman, said that youths can participate in a variety of programs that the DOW offers, as well as programs that other private organizations offer to support youth hunters.

The DOW offers several programs for youths, including a waterfowl hunt, a dove hunt, pheasant hunts, and opportunities for small and big game hunting.

"We really try to work with the young people who might not get a chance to get out there," he said.

Hampton said that all Colorado hunters, including children, are required to take hunter education classes. The classes cover basic safety procedures and hunting guidelines.

Since 1995, the state has offered low-cost hunting and fishing licenses to children ages 16 and younger. They can purchase small-game hunting licenses for $1. There is no minimum age for the licenses, provided applicants meet all hunter safety and education requirements, including completion of a hunter education course and possession a valid hunter safety education card.

Youths younger than 16 are required to have someone 18 or older accompany them. The adult does not have to hunt, he or she can just accompany the youth hunter, Hampton said.

For youths looking to bag larger animals such as elk, deer and antelope, a youth big-game hunting license can be purchased for $10 for Colorado residents and $100 for nonresidents. The same education requirements apply to the big game hunting licenses.

Only children 12 to 15 are eligible for the big game hunting license. Children 11 and younger are not allowed to hunt big game in the state, and people age 16 and older are considered adults and are required to purchase a full-price, big game license.

Laura Tyler, of Craig, started an Olympic youth air gun shooting program in 2000 and said that many of the skills she teaches carry over into the realm of other gun sports, including hunting.

Tyler estimated that about 1,000 youths have been involved in the program, and she said that she hopes the program will continue because it teaches youths dedication, concentration and determination. n

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