Practice, preparation key to success; bird numbers up

PRATT -- The 2005 upland youth season -- Nov. 5-6 -- is shaping up to be the best one ever. Upland bird populations have been spotty in most years since the youth seasons were started, but this year looks better, especially in central and western Kansas. Participation in past upland youth seasons has been lower than anticipated, even though abundant opportunities await on public wildlife areas and Walk-In-Hunting areas. A significantly improved upland bird forecast this year should attract more young hunters.

In addition to the attraction of more birds, youth hunters under 16 years of age will be able to participate without having to possess a hunter education certificate as long as they are under the direct supervision of an adult over 18 years of age, a requirement of all hunters in the youth season. Both of these factors have Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) officials anticipating more youth hunters afield this season.

This youth season is the perfect opportunity for adults to teach hunter ethics and responsibility, helping the young hunter understand how to hunt safely and appreciate the privilege of a safe and enjoyable hunt. Adults need to start planning now to provide young hunters training. Instruction on safe gun handling and experience carrying and shooting a firearm safely are very important. This training can be as much fun as hunting itself.

Adults need to start slow and be patient. If the young hunter is not ready to hunt this year and still wants to go, take them out and flush a few birds. Let them carry an unloaded firearm and practice going through the motions. When the youngsters tire, call it a day rather than wearing them out.

Begin today, after school, or this week-end, so everyone is ready when the time comes. For more information on youth hunting programs in Kansas, including the " Pass It On" program, phone 620-672-5911 or visit Hunter Recruitment and Retention Effort.