HUNTING -- If your kid is itching to take a shot at hunting, it's time to scout out the opportunities.
An impressive list of free hunting clinics organized by certified volunteers with the state Hunter Education Program starts this weekend and runs through September in the Yakima and Kittitas county areas to the basics of hunting turkey, waterfowl and upland game birds.
In the Spokane area, another organization is gearing up to mentor new hunters.
First Hunt Foundation area members are taking applications for mentored duck and goose hunts during Washington's youth waterfowl season, Sept. 16-17, and for mentored pheasant, quail and partridge hunts during the youth upland bird season Sept. 23-24.
"We also offer other FHF mentored hunts during the regular hunting season for most species," said Jerry Hickman, local coordinator for FHF, which is based in Kamiah, Idaho.
"Many of our mentors with FHF are especially interested in helping first hunters to go for deer but there is no special or early season for youth hunts for big game. The fall wild turkey season is especially good for first time hunters if there is an opportunity to harvest either sex.
"Our mentors include archers for the September bow seasons, upland bird hunters with bird dogs, waterfowl hunters and deer hunters."
To put your first-time hunter on the waiting list or to volunteer to join the FHF as a mentor, call Hickman, (509) 315-7087.
"First Hunt Foundation will work with the parents, youth and other first-time hunters to the best of our ability," he said. "There is no charge for such a hunt."
Meanwhile, here's the scoop on the classes scheduled in the Yakima and Kittitas areas:
The clinics, which run on various dates through Oct. 31, will last two to four hours and cover the basics of hunting. In addition to classroom time, the clinics may include range time for patterning shotguns, said Aaron Garcia, WDFW Hunter Education coordinator.
Some clinics provide opportunities for beginning hunters to learn under the guidance of volunteer hunter education instructors, Master Hunters, and local hunting organizations. Participants in these mentored hunts must have valid hunting licenses.
Classes can fill fast and registration is first come, first served online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/huntered/clinics.
The schedule is as follows:
- Aug.12, 2 p.m. – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.
- Aug. 13, 2 p.m. – Fall Turkey Clinic at Cabelas in Union Gap, Yakima County in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.
- Aug. 27, 12-noon – Waterfowl Hunting Clinic at the Vancouver Trap Club in Clark County.
- Sept. 2, 6 a.m. – Mentored Dove Hunting at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit in southeast Yakima County.
- Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Sunnyside Wildlife Area pheasant release sites in southeast Yakima County.
- Sept. 23, 6 a.m. – Mentored Upland Bird Hunting for youth only (15 and under). Mentors with dogs will be at the Cottonwoods pheasant release site on the Wenas Wildlife Area in Kittitas County.
- Sept. 23 – Oct. 31, Mentored Early Fall Turkey Hunts on multiple days at multiple locations across the state. WDFW is matching registrants with First Hunt Foundation (http://www.firsthuntfoundation.com/) mentors.
- Sept. 30, 7 a.m. – Mentored Pheasant Hunt for youth only (15 and under), followed by Upland Bird Hunting Clinic, at Reds Fly Shop/Canyon River Ranch in Ellensburg, Kittitas County. The clinic after the youth hunt is open to all age registrants.
Garcia notes that youth hunters who attend with adult guardians and their own bird dogs, and do not require help from WDFW mentors can register for the Sept. 23 pheasant hunts at Sunnyside and Cottonwoods release sites.