Young California Hunters Given Special Waterfowl Hunting Experience

One of the biggest obstacles to growing waterfowling interest among children is actually having someone take them. Youth deer hunts are a dime a dozen, but due to the specialized nature of waterfowl (and upland) hunting, it's not quite as easy to do that with a duck hunt. So it's nice to see people going through the considerable effort to give young hunters a taste of the experience.

From this story in the Willows Journal:
Junior hunters were given a special hunting opportunity this month at the Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges' 20th annual junior waterfowl hunts. Over two Saturdays, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, 111 junior hunters harvested 110 birds, with a waterfowl average of 0.9 at Sacramento Refuge, south of Willows, and 1.2 at Delevan Refuge, northwest of Colusa.

_Some hunters traveled long distances to join the hunt, ranging from Mount Shasta and Hollister to Fort Bragg and Auburn. Each young hunter was provided with the experience of connecting with nature through developing a greater understanding of their quarry and its environment, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said. All hunting blinds and assigned ponds on the two refuges were set aside exclusively for the junior hunters (age 15 and under) on those days.
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_The juniors were eager for the waterfowl hunting opportunity and were teeming with excitement at 4:30 a.m. when the event orientation began. Accompanied by a responsible adult, the juniors set into the hunt area and returned hours later ready to share and compare experiences with their fellow hunters over a warm lunch. The Willows Kiwanis Club provided a hot dog barbecue with chips, drinks and the entire fixings at the Sacramento Refuge. At the Delevan NWR hunt, California Waterfowl volunteer Rich Ambrosino cooked his famous homemade chili.

It was apparent that food was a very important part of this event as parent Randy Ladd exclaimed, "The first thing my son asked just after we set up our decoys was when do you think we should go in a grab a few bowls of that awesome chili?"

In addition to providing the space for the young hunters to practice their marksmanship, the event promoted well-rounded knowledge of waterfowl, ethics, good sportsmanship, regulations and safe hunting practices through talks and activities hosted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and California Waterfowl, officials said.

Junior hunters were given gift bags, offered a free picture with a frame, encouraged to participate in a "Junior Hunter Whiz Quiz" for a chance to win a pair of binoculars, and played games identifying waterfowl species, judging distances and creating decoy arrangements to encourage hunting knowledge_

Do any organizations or agencies in your area offer something similar? Do your local DU or Delta Waterfowl chapter put on a youth event?