Families, youth and women can go afield with upland bird mentors

Inexperienced families, youth and women hunters can apply for a chance to step into the field with an experienced upland bird hunter at locations across much of Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 19, or Saturday, Oct. 26.

“Participants are offered a hands-on approach that shows them hunting techniques, outdoor skills, safety and how wildlife habitat plays a big part in upland bird management and hunter success,” said Mike Kurre, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mentoring program coordinator.

Co-sponsored by the DNR, hunt participants are paired with mentors from Pheasants Forever, Woodcock Minnesota and the Ruffed Grouse Society. After discussing safety, habitat, ethics, scouting for places to hunt and securing landowner permission when necessary, mentors take participants into the field.

A limited number of family hunts allow all family members to actively participate. For youth hunts, parents or guardians must accompany youth hunters at all times and at all events but cannot carry a firearm.

To participate, youth must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 19; have earned a valid firearms safety certificate; possess a small game license if required; and have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian accompany them as a nonfirearms carrying mentor. The adult must accompany the youth during the orientation and the hunt.

A small game license is not needed for youth younger than 16. A $5 reduced-price license is required for youth 16 and 17.
People 18 and older do not need a parent or guardian to accompany them, but will need a valid firearms safety certificate if required or an apprentice hunter validation certification, pheasant stamp (if pheasant hunting) and a small game license.

Up to four family members can participate in a family hunt. Adult and youth family members must meet all eligibility requirements. Applicants who apply for a family hunt but are not selected in the lottery can opt to allow their children to participate in the youth hunt if spots remain open.

All applicants must specify the county or area they want to hunt, if they are willing to travel farther if their choice is not available and the distance they are willing to travel.

Applications are due Monday, Sept. 16. They are available online at www.mndnr.gov/discover or by contacting the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367 or info.dnr@state.mn.us. Successful applicants will be notified via mail or email by the end of September.

The winner’s notice will contain specific information about hunting license requirements, equipment and hunt coordinator contact information. All winners must contact their hunt coordinator after receiving their notice.

Landowners with pheasant or grouse-producing property interested in allowing youth or novice families or women to hunt on their land can help out by contacting Pheasants Forever’s Eran Sandquist at 763-242-1273.