SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hunting is a West Virginia tradition, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Many young people who would like to get involved don’t have anyone to teach them, so the Natural Resources Police Officers of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have started a new Youth Hunting Program to recruit and increase the number of young people participating in wildlife and hunting activities.
“We see this new program as fulfilling a need to get our state’s youngsters outside and to promote our state’s hunting heritage,” said Col. Jerry Jenkins, chief of the WVDNR Law Enforcement Section. “We are looking for young people across the state that our officers can mentor and help enjoy the coming fall hunting seasons.”
The goals of the Youth Hunting Program are to preserve the state’s hunting heritage for present and future generations; to promote the highest ethical standards in hunting; to give the state’s youth an initial, positive, safe, educational and mentored hunting experience; to teach basic skills, values, techniques and responsibilities of hunting; and to teach participants practical conservation measures.
Youth Hunting Program participants must be 8 to 17 years old and complete and submit an application. They also are required to complete the West Virginia Hunter Education Course, have a valid West Virginia hunting license (if required), and have a completed release form signed by a parent or guardian. Anyone interested in participating in the Youth Hunting Program should contact their closest DNR district office for information.
“Youth who enter the program will learn how to hunt safely, legally and ethically,” said Col. Jenkins. “They also will learn how to track and field dress game, appreciate nature firsthand and make new friends. We expect these youth hunts will provide experiences and memories that will last a lifetime for both the kids and the officers.”
Participants in the Youth Hunting Program will get their first opportunity Saturday, Sept. 5, which is the statewide, one-day Youth Squirrel Season. Future youth hunting days for antlerless deer are scheduled for Oct. 16, Dec. 26 and Dec. 28. For more information, about West Virginia’s hunting seasons, refer to the 2015-2016 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary brochure available at DNR offices, license vendors and online at www.wvdnr.gov.