Monday, October 22nd 2012

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Michigan Youth Hunt: Lessons in conservation, memories to last a lifetime

Written by Amy Mayhew
Wednesday, September 19 2012

Tony watches as Jess works to ...

As our daughter prepares to go into the woods with her dad for this year’s Michigan Youth Hunt, I have to admit, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the fact that we’re nearing the end of an era.

She’s 15 now, and this will be one of the last times she is able to take part in this hunt. She’s done it before, and even bagged a doe for the first time when she was 12. Even so, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to do it this year – that is until she realized how much it would mean to her dad.

“So, are you going to come up north for the youth hunt this weekend with dad and me?” she asked on the way to school this morning.

“I didn’t think you wanted to go,” I said glancing her way before making a left onto E. Holly Road.

“Well, Dad said he set up the blind for us, set up the trail-cam, and even put carrots out for the deer – I think he wants me to go,” she said.

“Ya think?” I said smiling. “This will be one of your last hunts like this.”

Ouch. I felt the twang of a heart string the minute I said that. She’s really growing up.

Participating in the Michigan Youth Hunt has taught her a lot over the years. It’s taught her how to respect nature and the importance of conservation. It’s taught her how harvesting a deer is a part of life – especially in Michigan. Her dad taught her how to properly field dress a deer, and he taught her how to tag it, too.  But most importantly, it has resulted in memories with her dad that will last her a lifetime.

I was proud to see that she decided to give up a Saturday morning sleep-in in order to hit the woods with her dad again.  I hope she gets one with antlers this time. That would be icing on the cake, especially for her father.

Conservation aside, that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Not only are youth 10-16 able to take advantage of the day, but 100 percent disabled veterans can also bag a deer this weekend, Sept. 22-23.

Hunters under the age of 10 must be licensed through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program and be accompanied by a qualified mentor. Youth 10 - 13 can take part in the hunt as long as they stick to archery on public land or with a firearm on private land.  They’ll need a valid combination or antlerless license as archery and junior archery deer licenses are not valid for this hunt.

Youth 14 to 16 and qualified veterans with disabilities will need a combination firearm or antlerless deer license, enabling them to take a buck or a doe.

Limit is one deer per person, and everybody must to wear hunter’s orange and have permission from the landowner or leaseholder before heading out to the woods.

For more information, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.

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