Take Advantage of Youth-Only Deer Hunting Opportunities

Youth-only deer hunting opportunities are common throughout the country, and it pays to take advantage of them when introducing a boy or girl to the hunting tradition.

Take Advantage of Youth-Only Deer Hunting Opportunities

I began deer hunting during the late 1970s in my home state of Minnesota, and as I recall, the only special consideration given to youth hunters at that time was a guaranteed doe tag for the firearms deer season. (Over-the-counter firearms deer licenses were valid for an antlered deer, but you had to draw a doe tag in a lottery.)

I introduced to my two sons, Elliott and Luke, to deer hunting in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and the landscape had changed dramatically in terms of youth-only deer hunting opportunities. For example, I brought them to Wisconsin, which offers a special youth-only, firearms deer hunting weekend in mid-October (for residents or nonresidents), and they could shoot a buck, as well as a doe or two, depending on zone. I also brought them to South Dakota, and while they were limited to one doe only (no bucks), the season began in mid-September and lasted until the end of December! Again, this season was offered for residents or nonresidents.

In addition to having the woods to themselves (no general firearms deer season running at the same time), the cost was unbelievably low. A current check of Wisconsin’s website shows that a nonresident youth deer license (under 12 years old) is priced at $7. Remember, the youth can shoot a buck — for $7! The price goes up to $20 for nonresident kids 12 to 17 years old, which is still a steal. In South Dakota, the nonresident deer license cost for kids 12 to 17 is only $10.

The author’s son Luke with his first-ever whitetail (left), a mature Wisconsin doe taken during the special youth-only weekend. Luke was 10 years old. A year later in Wisconsin, he shot a 4x4 buck.
The author’s son Luke with his first-ever whitetail (left), a mature Wisconsin doe taken during the special youth-only weekend. Luke was 10 years old. A year later in Wisconsin, he shot a 4x4 buck.

I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance to introduce a kid to hunting take part in the special youth deer seasons available through state game and fish organizations. The price is very low, and the seasons are sometimes very long, meaning you can pick the most comfortable weather. One last tip: Use the summer months to get a rifle or slug gun dialed in at the range so the boy or girl is ready when their first deer steps into the shooting lane.

The author and his oldest son Elliott (16 at the time) sharing memories in the Wisconsin woods in 2019.
The author and his oldest son Elliott (16 at the time) sharing memories in the Wisconsin woods in 2019.
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