Even the most skilled of hunters was at one time a beginner.
A hunter has to start somewhere, and the Texas Youth Hunting Program seeks to give first-time hunters a shot at the outdoors. The program, provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Wildlife Association, allows hunting enthusiasts to volunteer the use of their land to expose kids ages 9 to 17 into the world of hunting.
Before the kids can participate, though, they must first pass a hunter’s education course. The program also allows city kids a chance to camp outside, cook over an open flame and enjoy nature.
Avid hunters Randy and Roxan Staff of Dallas own 1,600 acres in northeast Young County where they have built a home away from home to hunt and escape the city. One day, Randy was looking on the TYHP website and saw that the program needed volunteers. After discussing it, the couple agreed to host a hunt at their ranch in December.
“Experienced hunters (from TYHP) came out and looked at the place to see if it was good enough to bring inexperienced kids out,” Roxan said.
Five Dallas kids, along with their parent or guardian, five trained TYHP hunters and a cook made their way to the Double RS Ranch, a home just big enough to house everyone for a weekend of hunting. Roxan said that some of the kids there were first-time hunters.
“The experienced hunters took the two newbies out,” she said. “I thought they really learned a lot and had a greater appreciation for the outdoors. We value Young County and how rough and beautiful the country is. Some of the kids have never been out in the country.”
Those who didn’t have proper equipment or rifles were supplied them through the program. It costs $120 to participate in the hunt, and scholarships are provided to those who want to participate but can’t afford the opportunity. During their trip, the kids learned about gun safety, hunting fundamentals and outdoor survival.
“When the kids aren’t eating, hunting or sleeping, we’re giving them some sort of education,” said Chris Mitchell, TYHP Field Operations Coordinator.
Mitchell said that although they mostly hunt deer, they also hunt dove, duck, turkey and prong.
Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.