Youth are hunting this weekend

NORTHSHIRE - For the past six years, going hunting with his children on Youth Deer Weekend has been a tradition for Chris Lowe of Jamaica. This weekend will be no exception when Lowe and his 11-year-old daughter venture out into the woods.

Lowe first went out with his stepson who is now 16-years-old and inelligible to participate in Youth Deer Weekend, which is for people 15-years-old or younger according to the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife's website. Lowe said that on his first time out his stepson got a deer. However, his daughter, now in her second season, is still looking to bag her first.

When it comes to the sport of hunting, Lowe said he believes people should introduce their children to the sport, but not force it on them - something he said he never had to worry about with his children.

"They all couldn't wait. They really wanted to take the test," said Lowe. "I got a six-year-old daughter who's really excited about hunting, but she's just too young. So, they've all wanted to hunt."

Youth Deer Weekend has also been special for Danny Thompson who will be going out with his step daughter Jessica Casey this weekend in this her last year of eligibility.

Thompson said because he has always gone out hunting frequently, Casey became interested in sport. She first began going out at age 13 and Thompson said he believed that she liked the experience.

"I think she really enjoyed ... being out in the woods," he said. "She really enjoyed spending time with me and being able to come back and tell mom about the kind of things she saw and the places she went."

While several town clerks who sell youth deer hunting license said that they had not sold any, or very few, as of press time, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Chris Saunders, said that the number of licenses purchased statewide over the last several years has been relatively steady.

"It's actually been remarkablly stable," he said. "For the years past the numbers were lower. The problem is that was before our point of sale license sales began and it was harder to get that information from license agents because the Youth Deer Weekend permit is free. So, it could be it was harder to get that information. Now with the point of sale license numbers we have a much more exact number of how many people are participating."

Although Saunders could not say how many licenses had been purchased this year, he said 9,400 were sold last year.

Youth Deer Day was first created in 1997. However, by 2002 The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife had changed it Youth Deer Weekend. According to research, about three-quarters of younger hunters go hunting for the first time on Youth Deer Weekend - which Saunders said he feels is important in getting younger people interested in the sport.

"It's absolutely essential," said Saunders. "You know the department created this with the realization that [with] today's very hectic schedules, so many other things going on, so many extracurricular activities happening, it can be really hard to take time out and really focus on getting youth out in the woods. So, this is very special weekend."

While the creation of the weekend was designed to try to get the youth more interested in the sport, Saunders said the involvement of family and friends plays a far more integral role in creating an interest among today's youth.

"In particular we know family and friends is really, really important. That's really key for why youth like to hunt and that's not surprising," said Saunders. "They grow up watching their brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and mothers and fathers go off to deer camp and you know finally they get to go. It's about spending time and being outdoors and we know that it's very effective for that reason."

There is an element of bonding involved in the sport, which Lowe indicated is a particularly important part of Youth Deer Weekend - just as it was when he went hunting as kid prior to the creation of the weekend.

"I can remember when I was younger it was the same way," said Lowe. "You know when it comes to Youth Weekend we have a good time and even on the regular deer season my parents are up at camp and the kids just think it's the greatest thing to go to camp because that's where everybody is. It's a lot more than just the hunting."


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