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Focus on kids

Youth hunting seasons are great times for teaching kids safety and necessary skills.
Youth hunting seasons are great times for teaching kids safety and necessary skills.

Youths learn about bird hunting

A lot of “educating” can be done during the special youth upland bird and waterfowl seasons in Idaho and Washington.

Since only youths under the age of 16 can shoot during these brief hunts that precede the general seasons, adults have to focus their attention on the kids.

It’s prime time for teaching kids skills and safety and making the hunt a good time. And the kids are the first to “educate” the pheasants, ducks and geese and let the birds know the 2011 fall hunting seasons are under way.

“There’s no question that the birds of the year have to learn about decoys, blinds and shooting,” said Matt Monda, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist and a dad who’s taken advantage of the youth hunts.

“We had tremendous success on the youth hunts as a family. Part of it is because the participation isn’t that high, which is unfortunate.”

Idaho and Washington have designated youth bird hunting seasons in early fall, when kids accompanied by an adult can hunt most ducks and some birds:

• Washington’s youth upland bird and waterfowl hunt is Sept. 24-25.

• North Idaho’s youth waterfowl hunt, Sept. 24-25, allows the kids to hunt ducks and geese and other waterfowl, with some restrictions.

• The Panhandle’s youth pheasant season is Oct. 1-7.

Before the youth waterfowl hunts, Monda suggested adults get the kids out for preseason scouting.

Hunters who know where the ducks and geese are in October through January may be surprised at where the birds are in September, he said.

“The corn’s not harvested, so they’ll be more likely to be attracted to wheat stubble,” he said. “Dabbling ducks like mallards feed more in marshes during September because of aquatic plants that go to seed just above the surface of the water.”

The youth seasons have virtually no downside for the kids or the adults, Monda said.

“I think the best part is that the adult can’t shoot,” he said. “It’s all up to the kids, and I have the most fun of the hunting season helping them out.”