Sportsman’s Corner: Youth deer hunt a success

  • The 2018 Massachusetts Youth Deer Hunt Day took place Saturday. Young hunters age 12-17 were able to participate in the one-day season if they had a permit. AP

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 10/6/2018 12:58:18 AM
Modified: 10/6/2018 1:03:10 AM

The 2018 Massachusetts Youth Deer Hunt Day took place Saturday. Young hunters age 12-17 were able to participate in the one-day season if they had a permit, which was available online. Using this permit, youth could take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone on the day of the hunt.

MassWildlife created Youth Deer Hunt Day to allow young hunters to hunt deer with their own permit. The hunt occurs on a special day before the state’s annual deer hunting season. Shotgun deer season regulations apply during the hunt. Licensed hunters who hunt other animals on this date must follow special restrictions.

Two members of the Mahar Middle School Fish’N Game Club bagged their first white-tail Saturday while taking part in the Youth Hunt. Kayley Murphy and Blake Adams both used their either-sex tags and put venison in the freezer. Congratulations to both of them and their parents for supporting them in this endeavor. Way to go!

Each youth must be with a licensed adult. Only one minor per licensed adult is permitted and the adult may not use a hunting implement. The aforementioned Youth Deer Permit is required, which hunters could obtain through MassFishHunt at the MassWildlife website.

Youth age 15-17 who are Massachusetts residents needed a Minor hunting license and the Youth Deer Permit. Non-residents could participate but were required to possess a Massachusetts non-resident Big Game License and a Youth Deer Permit. The Youth Deer Hunt Permit was valid only for the day of the Youth Deer Hunt. Hunters cannot use it during any other deer hunting seasons and only one hunting implement was allowed. A shotgun, muzzleloader, or bow and arrow could be used.

The bag limit was one deer of either sex as the Youth Deer Permit allowed either: one antlered deer statewide or one antlerless deer in the Wildlife Management Zone specified on the permit. Any deer taken during the youth hunt are not considered part of the statewide season bag limit. All youth hunters and any accompanying adults had to wear at least 500 square inches of blaze orange on their chest, back and head. Like all deer hunters, the young hunters needed to fill out the tag from the Youth Deer Permit and attach it to the deer before moving it and they were required to report deer harvest within 48 hours.

This third year of the Massachusetts Youth Deer Hunt continued the success of previous hunts. Over 1,000 youths obtained permits and, as of Tuesday, 125 had checked in a deer online. Deer also could be brought to a check station, so the final tally will not be available until later. This, to me, is quite impressive as the traditional success rate of Northeast deer hunters is between 10-20 percent for an entire season. The approximate 12 percent success is outstanding. Perhaps an even better statistic was the report from young hunters that 55 percent of them saw deer during the day.

New Hampshire and Vermont also have youth deer hunts and Massachusetts youth can participate if they meet the requirements of each state. In New Hampshire, the Youth Deer Hunting Weekend is Oct. 27-28. There is no minimum age for youth hunting. All youth hunters under 16 must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years or older. “Accompanied” means within sight and hearing, excluding electronic devices, when actual physical direction and control can be affected, pursuant to New Hampshire law. Accompanying adults may not carry a firearm or bow during the special youth hunting weekends. All deer taken by youth hunters must be tagged with either a home-made tag or the back page of the N.H. Hunting Digest.

Hunter education is not required for youth hunters under 16. Both resident and non-resident youth may hunt during the special weekends, but non-resident youth are eligible only if their state of residence allows New Hampshire youth to participate in its youth deer hunt, and Massachusetts does. Adults who accompany youth hunters on these special weekends must possess a hunting license and may not carry a firearm or assist in taking the deer other than to supervise. Each licensed adult may accompany up to two youths under 16. The taking of a deer of either sex is legal statewide.

Vermont’s youth deer hunting weekend is Nov. 3-4. Traditionally, it is held on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the opening of the regular November rifle deer season. A resident or non-resident youth, 15 or younger on the weekend of the hunt, who has successfully completed a hunter safety course must obtain a free youth deer hunting tag to hunt during this season. The youth must also purchase a Vermont youth hunting license at a license agent by either showing proof of satisfactorily completing the hunter safety course or proof of having held a valid hunting license previously. The youth hunter’s parent or guardian must sign the hunting license application in the presence of the license agent.

When hunting, the youth hunter must be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 years of age who holds a valid Vermont hunting license. The adult may accompany no more than two youth hunters at any given time. The adult must have direct control and supervision, including the ability to see and communicate with the youth hunter without the aid of artificial devices such as radios or binoculars, except for medically necessary devices such as hearing aids or eyeglasses. Landowner permission is required by law in order to hunt on private land with a youth deer tag during youth deer weekend. All relevant game laws and regulations apply during the Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, including the prohibition on baiting and road hunting. Landowners are not exempt from the requirement to purchase tags to hunt on their own property on youth weekends.

A Vermont youth deer hunting tag is valid for one deer on youth deer hunting weekend in accordance with Fish & Wildlife Board rules. The amount of any fine will be doubled for a violation on Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, and the fine shall be assessed against the licensed adult who has the youth hunter in his or her charge.

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