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Print

DNR seeks youth involvement

August 22, 2009 at 07:53 PM

ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

ROCKFORD — The number of hunters continues to decline, making the future of the sport in Illinois bleak unless ways are found to get more children involved.

That was the message coming from the Youth Recruitment and Retention Natural Resources Advisory Board subcommittee meeting recently at the Atwood Outdoor Education Center in Rockford.

Fourteen area residents attended the two-hour meeting to share ideas on how best to get kids involved with hunting, fishing and other outdoors-related activities.

“It’s a big challenge,” said John Rogner, state Department of Natural Resources assistant director.

Access to hunting lands and opportunities to hunt are two major obstacles.

Ideas offered during the public comment period included opening the county forest preserve lands to youth hunts and creating a state-run program to encourage landowners to allow hunting.

Subcommittee member Kent Adams also offered a helpful tip for parents of young hunters when approaching landowners.

“Getting access is much easier when you have a kid with you when you knock on the door,” he said.

Subcommittee members also suggested more hunting-related groups follow the lead of the Winnebago County Pheasants Forever chapter, Plug & Pellet Sportsman’s Club of Rockford and Northern Illinois Rifle and Pistol Club.

Those groups provide programs for youths to learn safe shooting skills.

Subcommittee member Michael Howard said Chicago-area youths don’t have those types of opportunities because of gun laws and anti-gun attitudes.

“It’s a hard, uphill battle to recruit (kids for hunting), but it can be done,” he said.

“People keep linking guns to crime. That’s a stereotype, and is not fair.”

Olivia Dorothy, DNR youth program coordinator, noted that the state’s apprentice hunting program is making strides to introduce youths to the sport.

The program allows children ages 10-17 to hunt when supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or grandparent before buying a traditional hunting license, which requires passing a hunter safety class.

People ages 18 or older also can get an apprentice license to join any licensed hunter.
In the program’s first three years 5,255 apprentice licenses were issued.

“It takes a hunter to make a hunter,” Dorothy said, noting that 92 percent of U.S. hunters came from hunting families.

The ideas offered at Wednesday’s meeting will be reviewed Oct. 24-25 by the Illinois Conservation Congress.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

So, Marc Miller wants to recruit youth hunters in Illinois!  Then as a gesture to do so, I propose that he open up all State owned facilities and IDNR managed facilities to the youth hunters this Fall at no charge.  Suspend all requirements of licenses for all youth participating in the hunt, charge nothing for the tags and permits.  Let?s have a youth hunt for the resident youth hunters that they and their parents can afford!  I also will throw out the challenge to all licensed outfitters in Illinois to provide their privately held lands to participate in this year?s youth hunt by providing hunts to Illinois youth free of charge.  Let?s all do our part to get the youth hunters of Illinois a place to hunt this Fall?...in Illinois.  Anyone that needs a place for their youth hunter to hunt this Fall, or any outfitter willing to provide youth hunts this Fall, send me an e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .  Let?s make this year ?special? for some young hunters!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/24 at 08:20 AM

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