In this day and age, hunters simply can’t afford to be so parochial. There is too much territory available to the public for anyone to be so territorial. Whitetail deer are abundant all across the state, especially in the Southern Tier.
There’s no need for the greed.
Last year, when the DEC first introduced the special Youth Deer Hunt weekend, it was considered a great marketing effort. In a business sense, DEC was building a new base of customers, and in the process, the department was protecting our natural resources in the best possible way.
Although statistics indicate it may be a bit late to begin initiating 14- or 15-year-olds to a new sport, it is better late then never. But it isn’t just a sport; it’s a life skill.
Numerous studies have revealed the ideal time to introduce youth to such lifelong recreational pursuits as skiing, fishing or hunting is somewhere between 4th and 5th grade, or ages 10 to 12.
Life skills educators recognize the propensity for pursuing life skills development begins to drop off significantly during their teenage years, when kids usually have other pursuits in mind. Been there, done that.
In many western states, including Colorado and Montana, all of the local ski resorts provide free skiing for every 4th grader in the state. The purpose is to get the kids hooked on skiing early. Research indicates that if they don’t learn to ski by the 4th grade, chances are they’ll never become lifelong skiers. Research indicates the same strategy is even more vital when it comes to growing anglers, hunters, paddlers, bikers, hikers, etc., where mentorship is often the key.
Unlike team sports, which require officials, a playing field and a large number of participants, life skills are activities that can be pursued individually or with friends, in the local area, at little cost, for life. No time clocks, no refs, no uniforms and no whistles; just good clean fun.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.