Nesvik: Opportunity for kids and new hunters

Nesvik: Opportunity for kids and new hunters

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It’s here — hunting season. For many adults and kids alike, the feeling heading to the field is similar to the youthful anticipation of Christmas morning. And, there is no better way to enhance your hunting experience and opening morning excitement than by inviting a kid or someone new to the adventure.

Connecting new people, particularly kids, with the outdoors is one of the most important things we can do for the future of wildlife conservation. As people who recreate in Wyoming know, our state has tremendous wildlife and outdoor resources. Mentoring youth to enjoy nature promotes Wyoming’s outdoor heritage, and hunting is one way to coax a kid away from today’s technology to develop an appreciation for wildlife.

I know firsthand that an early-morning bird hunt introduces many new hunters to the sport, and it doesn’t have to be a long trip involving a lot of planning and preparation. A pheasant or chukar hunt at one of the Game and Fish’s wildlife habitat management areas or a mountain grouse hunt are excellent ways to get new kids experience afield. Upland bird hunting builds confidence with a firearm, good decision-making and basics of field-dressing experience. Then at age 12, kids can start hunting big game. Deer make fun pursuits and can be done on easy terrain with opportunity for coaching.

Before a kid’s first hunt, they must learn about the basics through a hunter education class. These classes are important to teach safety, hunter ethics and why hunting is an important tool for wildlife management. In Wyoming, we offer these courses statewide and encourage parents and mentors to take the class alongside their young hunter. We also offer the hunter mentor program, in which an experienced hunter can take someone new afield and show them how to hunt. This program gives a person who is curious about hunting the chance to try it, even if they haven’t been able to take hunter education.

There will be plenty of opportunity this year to see a variety of wildlife. A wet spring and summer are good for wildlife and the places they live. Our state is blessed with healthy, hearty wildlife heading into the fall.

I wish you the best hunting season on behalf of all at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and we look forward to seeing you and your harvested game at our check stations across the state. We are anxious to hear your stories and meet new hunters as they learn why Wyoming’s wildlife is so special and worth all of our attention.

Share photos and stories of the kids you inspire through hunting this fall with us on social media by using #inspiredbywy.

Brian Nesvik is the director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He has worked for Game and Fish for 24 years, beginning as a game warden. He believes deeply the future of Wyoming’s wildlife depends on investing in youth to value the outdoors.

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