Dave D. from West Virginia writes to ask about Youth Deer Seasons. “We have a Youth Deer Season in West Virginia, and the purpose is to bring more kids into hunting. Our special season is very short, so my question is do they work?”
Dr. Dave Samuel
That is a very good question. We know that hunter numbers are dropping so most states have created these special seasons for youths. We also have known for years, based on research done in New Jersey, that kids that harvest a deer when they first start hunting stay in hunting much longer than those who do not harvest a deer.
To find out if our youth seasons are working, we need to follow a cohort of young hunters to see if they are still hunting 20 years from now. Interestingly, there are hunters who complain that these kids are getting a special advantage by being allowed to hunt earlier in these youth hunts or youth seasons. These guys need to get a life! Most of these deer hunts are for does, and in West Virginia these hunts are rather short, and the total number of does harvested is relatively low. The adult hunters who complain don’t get it because we are not adding enough hunters to replace the old ones who die or drop out. These youth seasons may well be helping the rather bleak hunting future by creating more hunters.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.