A chance to hunt ring-necked pheasants with other youth awaits 12 to 15 year old hunters who sign up for one of five special youth pheasant hunts to be held in Utah this fall.
"We're holding these hunts to increase the interest young people have in upland game hunting," stated 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," continued Mitchell.
Getting qualified to participate is easy. All that recent hunter education course graduates have to do is complete an application and write a one paragraph essay on explaining the following:
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 Sept. 7 to be considered for one of the hunts. Applications are available on page 23 of the 2002 - 2003 Utah upland game proclamation, at DWR offices, hunter education centers, and on the DWR's upland game web page at www.wildlife.utah.gov/upland.htm.
Youths must include their name, address, telephone number or e-mail address on their application, and indicate which hunting session they'd like to attend.
The youth hunts will be held Nov. 9 on five state wildlife management areas. These areas will be closed to all other hunters on Nov. 9.
The hunts will be held at the Willard Bay wildlife management area, south of Willard Bay Reservoir; at the James Walter Fitzgerald management area which is located about six miles north of Vernon; at the Mallard Springs area located about one and a half miles southeast of Myton; at the Pahvant management area located about five miles northwest of Fillmore; and at the Huntington management area which is located approximatly two miles north of Huntington.
The Willard Bay hunt will be limited to 90 youths, while the Mallard Springs hunt will be limited to 30 and the Huntington hunt will be limited to 75. The remaining two hunts will be limited to 100 youths each.
Each youth who participates will be allowed to take 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 explained. "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," concluded Mitchell.
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, DWR 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. This person will be 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 explained.
For more information, contact the nearest DWR office, visit the division's web site, or refer to the upland game proclamation.