Young hunters sharpen skills during trip in Moffat County
Parks & Wildlife hopes to expand mentored hunt program
Laadan Rothermund has a number of hunting trips under his belt, but even so, the chance to engage in another trip into the wild was an opportunity he couldn’t wait to gobble up.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife provided two young hunters with a mentored turkey hunt in Moffat County this past weekend, the honors going to 12-year-old Laadan, from Craig, and Savanna Goodin, 16, of Falcon, near Colorado Springs.
The two suited up in their camouflage and took to the northwesternmost part of Northwest Colorado, Douglas Mountain near Browns Park Wildlife Refuge.
Area landowners John Raftopoulos, Dawn Nottingham, Jimmy Horton and Scott and Debbie Estes aided with the process, as did several district wildlife managers, providing some basic instruction.
Though the excursion had two days scheduled, both the skilled outdoorskids bagged a bird within hours.
The solitude and silence while walking around in nature were Laadan’s favorite parts of the experience, he said, as well as the Remington shotgun he used.
“There’s a lot of waiting,” he said. “You have to hold still because they can see you if you move, and they’ll run off.”
Laadan’s stepfather, Don Griffin, served in the mentor role required for kids to participate, but he was there strictly to watch.
“He did it all himself,” Don said proudly. “It was wonderful, a lot of fun, good to watch him do it. It gives him the skills he needs that he probably wouldn’t have gotten.”
Among the handy items used during the trip were camo covered with leaves for extra concealment and perhaps the most important tool, the turkey call.
In his essay applying for the trip, Laadan said he emphasized that he didn’t want to miss out on an event he might never see again. The turkey he claimed was a new challenge, having mostly hunted critters like rabbits and prairie dogs.
“It might get me started in more turkeys, and it might get me started on elk and deer,” he said, noting that he hopes to hunt big game this fall.
The mentored hunt program is something that has seen more and more interest, said CPW’s Mike Swaro, district wildlife manager for Craig. The organization also facilitated a turkey hunt for youth on land near Meeker and one for women near Parachute recently, and next year, Swaro hopes to be able to expand the number of young hunters for the Craig area to three.
Applicants are selected based on their level of expertise in the sport. A kid who hunts regularly and already has a wealth of knowledge is less likely to be picked than someone who has fewer opportunities to get out into the field and could use some guidance.
“The main thing is to get them introduced to these outdoor activities and get them started,” Swaro said. “Any opportunity we have to get kids out and interested, we jump all over it.”
This year, a handful of Moffat County High School graduates are setting out to carry on the family tradition. From business to education, these students plan to follow in the footsteps their parents and in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents.