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Youth hunters connect with early deer season

September 25, 2013 - Groveland Twp.- Last weekend three area youth took aim at a new outdoor experience.

Under the supervision of township resident Rex Murphy, the three adolescents joined thousands of others statewide participating in the Youth Deer Hunt for ages 10-16. Young hunters could take a buck or doe on private land accompanied by an adult 21 or older.

"My goal is get kids out there and started in the sport," said Murphy, 46, a hunter since he was 12-years-old. "I educate the youth on safety and understanding the principle of hunting so when they are older the traditions will continue. The number of hunters has declined over the past years for a variety of reasons—so changing that trend takes each one of us who hunt to do their part. It also gets kids outside away from video games into the outdoors where they'll not only have fun, but also learn conservation of our natural resources."

Dennis Fox, recruitment and retainment manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the Youth Hunting program is designed to help halt the steady decline in the sport.

"The intent is to get hunters out there at a young age," said Fox. "Our research says that once youth get to be high school or college age they stop hunting until they get to be about 25-years-old. At that point they are more settled and many start up again. The Youth Hunt gets them involved so they stay with it a lifetime."

The Youth Hunt, during the third weekend in September and started about 10 years ago, is the first of the season when pressure in the woods is less, added Fox.

"Other than squirrel and grouse hunting, which opens on Sept. 15, the youth season for deer is the first of the fall," added Fox. "Also, typically the weather is better, it's much warmer than in mid-October or November during firearm season. Better weather means kids can stay out there longer."

The Youth Hunt is shared with the Liberty Hunt, for disabled veterans and disabled individuals who qualify, and the Mentored Youth Hunt, for youth age 9 and younger hunt with a mentor at least 21-years-old.

"There are plenty of deer and game this year," added Fox. "The warm early fall is a great time to get out there and enjoy Michigan's resources."

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