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State, groups encourage younger hunters

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Both the state and area groups are trying to encourage more participation in the sport by attracting younger hunters. The regular deer and small game hunting seasons are currently underway. Other seasons start later in November or December.
In 2008, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation started a Junior Hunter Mentoring Program, allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt deer with a firearm. Jeremy Hurst, DEC wildlife biologist, said 1,500 youth got licenses that first year. He said in 2009, it had a small jump to about 1,600.
That wasn’t the first time the DEC made changes to encourage younger hunters. Hurst said in 2005, the first day of deer hunting season was moved from a Monday to a Saturday. Bill Button is a youth educator and chairman of the Shooters Committee On Political Education (SCOPE) Yates County Chapter. He said he has seen an increase in younger people at hunter safety courses over the last five years. Button added he is not sure if this is due to renewed efforts to encourage younger hunters.
He said this area used to be a lot more agricultural than it is now. It was then that most youth hunted. He added in the last 40 years the area become more residential. Now, Button said he is seeing many Mennonite youth in the safety classes. “Kids aren’t interested,” said Himrod Conservation Club President Chuck Wright. “They have cell phones and computers.”
The club also holds events and safety courses to encourage younger hunters. Wright said at any given youth orientated event, there are about 12 attendees. In comparison, the club has about 200 members, between the age of 30 and 90.




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