Twelve youth and parents enjoy two weekends of deer hunting; youth harvest seven antlerless deer
COLUMBUS — During the Jan. 1-10 extended whitetail firearms deer season, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), in partnership with Claythorne Lodge, K&K Outfitters, and John’s Sporting Goods, provided youth deer hunts for 12 young hunters — six on each of the two days — and accompanying adults. On Saturday, Jan. 2, and Saturday, Jan. 9, the hunters waited in blinds on private land overlooking areas that consistently attract good numbers of deer. Pre-hunt activities included a pizza lunch provided by John’s Sports Center, safety instruction, and sighting in rifles before the hunts began at 1 p.m. each day. Hunter orange hats, vests, hand warmers, and hearing protection were provided for all hunters.

Each young hunter was accompanied by a guide and a parent or grandparent. All of the young hunters saw deer, and seven of the 12 harvested an antlerless deer. Following the hunt, youth hunters, guides, and parents/grandparents shared stories of the hunt as they gathered at the hunting lodge to snack and warm up. Whether or not the youth harvested a deer, all had intriguing stories and found something about the hunt that will be a lasting memory. Certainly, the extreme cold weather that these young hunters endured was a memory in itself.

“These were the coldest days we've had in this area in 12 years,” said Rob Riggin, Mined Land Wildlife Area manager. "I even asked the kids if they wanted to call the hunt off until next year, but not a one of them did. They all stuck it out and were happy about it. I'm glad they did because this type of hunt is a winning situation for all participants. The guides, lodge owners, and parents and grandparents have a wonderful time introducing the outdoors to these young hunters. The kids have an opportunity to hunt areas specifically managed for wildlife with excellent deer numbers, and the participating landowners benefit from the harvest of excess antlerless deer."

These opportunities require assistance from many. KDWP extends thanks to the owners of Claythorne Lodge and K&K Outfitters for the use of their hunting lodges, staff, and access to properties. In addition, John’s Sports Center provided pizza for all participants, and several landowners allowed hunting access, including John Parsons, Sam and Frieda Lancaster, Hugh Sosebee, and Sam Bismuke.