Youth Deer Seasons and the Importance of Recruiting the Next Generation

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy             

  • Youth deer hunting seasons provide youth hunters an opportunity to be introduced to and participate in our time-honored outdoor traditions.
  • Opportunities to recruit and retain the next generation of hunters are critical to ensure the viability of both these traditions and the American System of Conservation Funding.
  • In support of this, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) continues to advocate for legislation that promotes these activities while removing barriers to participation.
  • Recent victories include OK SCR 5 (2021) which promoted the teaching of hunter education in schools and KS HB 2456 (2022) which created a discounted lifetime combination license for resident children ages 0-7.

Why It Matters: To ensure the longevity of the American System of Conservation Funding and defeat efforts designed to undermine our ability to participate in our time-honored outdoor traditions, we must take steps to recruit the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen. Youth deer hunting seasons provide an opportunity to advance these objectives while spending extra time in the field.

Halloween is now behind us, and with it, so too is one of the most exciting times of the year for hunting’s younger participants and their families and mentors – youth deer hunting seasons. The annual tradition of youth deer hunting seasons provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of our recruitment efforts among the next generation of sportsmen and women.

Recent, albeit pre-COVID, trends in hunter participation have continued to point to a decline in hunting participation. When looked upon within the context of the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, this represents a serious problem. Recognizing these challenges, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation continues to take steps to support the recruitment of the next generation of hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooting sports participants through the legislative process. Recently in the Lower Midwest, this has resulted in several notable victories designed to promote our time-honored traditions and remove potential barriers to participation.

Examples of this include 2021’s effort to promote the teaching of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Hunter Education Course in the state’s public middle and high schools. The resolution, known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, was adopted unanimously in both chambers thanks to the Co-Chairs and Members of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

In 2022, CSF worked closely with Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to pass House Bill 2456, creating a discounted youth lifetime combination hunting and fishing license. This license, now available for purchase by youth residents ages 0-7 in Kansas, provides parents with an opportunity to invest in their child’s future as a hunter and angler.

Part of our mission to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping is to ensure that there are always future generations ready to carry the torch, and CSF will continue to advocate for policy designed to ensure that there is always an opportunity to do so.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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