Yeti

Minimum ages, mentor tags, and other rambling thoughts

JLS

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I am always suprised by the reactions that are elicited when the subjects of minimum hunter age and mentored hunts comes up. In a recently locked thread, I saw a few statements made that caused me a little concern. I am not going to, nor do I intend to create a strawman argument. However, I am going to throw out a few thoughts here that are based upon many years of experience with the subject, and my anecdotal observations over that time.

Firstly, I guess if a minimum hunting age is desired because of the rite of passage that it creates, fine. At least be honest about it. I had to wait until I was 12, so you should to is a common rationale I see. Does it create safer hunters? I have not pulled nationwide data, nor do I intend to. However, after being a Hunter Ed instructor in states that have a minimum age vs. those that do not, I have come to the opinion that it is a feel good measure.

A well constructed Hunter Ed program (which most states have), will quickly weed out the students that do not belong in the field. I recently passed a 7 year old hunter, who took an online class and the mandatory field day. This young man's performance in the field day was one of the finest I have ever seen. I find myself having to correct young adults more frequently than I do young children. And, older children typically need more frequent correction than do the very young children.

Now, I realize we have minimum ages for driving. I realize there are valid reasons for these, and hunting is an acceptable analogy. I am completely supportive of eliminating a minimum age for hunting, but requiring that they be in the direct company of an adult hunter.

An example was given of a unethical event that happened in the Bitteroot with youth hunters. Is this a product of the youth, or a product of their mentoring? I fully realize I can teach everything a young hunter should know, but in the end they will very likely default to the examples and expectations of their parents while they are in the field. The same parents who allow their kids to create the event in the Bitterroot are the same kinds of parents that would themselves be involved with the event near Townsend. Does a minimum age rectify this? Not in any way.

I also fail to see the basis fears of increased tag transfers with mentored and/or youth hunters. I am willing to bet a very large sum of money that very few of the illegal tag transfers that take place each year involve young kids. Do some? Certainly. My guess is that the majority of these come from a spouse's tag or some other source. There really is no way to eliminate the possibility or likelihood of tag transfers, and as such I don't see the need to reduce opportunity in the name of a feel good measure to reduce poaching.

I think every state should be looking at creative ways to provide youth mentoring programs that allow parents the opportunity to get their kids in the field at a reasonable cost. Idaho's youth mentored tags are a great example, and I would argue that Oregon's youth mentor opportunity is also a great idea.

These are simply my thoughts and not meant to troll a big internet pissing match. As always, your mileage may vary.
 
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Eric Albus

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JLS, thanks for putting up some rational and reasonable thought.


I think it should be a parents decision as to when a child should begin hunting. You used drivers license as a comparison....my boys were running equipment on the ranch by age 7....the oldest one was ready to hunt at age 6, the youngest boy was ready to start hunting at age 8...my boys got to go along and watch me hunt for years, I had to wait until they were 12 to see them hunt... I missed out on a lot of years...years I will never get back.
 

tjones

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Comparing running farm equipment and a drivers license is silly, even for you Eric.

Let me ask,are all parents good mentors?
 
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drahthaar

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Is the youth hunter hunting on the mentor's tag? Or does the youth hunter have his/her own tag?

If it's the former, then I say, fine, you decide when your youngster is ready.

If it's the latter, then I say no way, no how. Its just another way for guys to poach, and I believe poaching is already a big problem in MT.

The "youth hunt" up here in R1 was a shining example of this. The guys at check stations could see it, the wardens knew, guys even bragged about "renting a kid" for filling their freezer, then go trophy hunt on their own tag.

My buddy talked to a local meat processor, he said something interesting. He said as soon as this "youth" hunt started, kids became stone cold killers. These cows came in with holes in their head, upper neck, ears...perfect shots to not ruin one bit of meat. I thought that above all was quite telling.

Besides, there isn't a 6,7, or 8 yo kid that could possibly be safe stumbling through this brush and steep country here with a rifle. No way!!!! I can barely push through some of it.

Sitting next to some hayfield, with the rifle propped up on sticks pulling a trigger doesn't make a kid a hunter.

If it is soooooo important to somebody that their kid pulls the trigger, then they will surely use their own tag on the animal. If you have more than one kid, tough, get your wifey poo out there for her tag then, but then you're done.
 
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JLS

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Is the youth hunter hunting on the mentor's tag? Or does the youth hunter have his/her own tag?

If it's the former, then I say, fine, you decide when your youngster is ready.

If it's the latter, then I say no way, no how. Its just another way for guys to poach, and I believe poaching is already a big problem in MT.

The "youth hunt" up here in R1 was a shining example of this. The guys at check stations could see it, the wardens knew, guys even bragged about "renting a kid" for filling their freezer, then go trophy hunt on their own tag.

My buddy talked to a local meat processor, he said something interesting. He said as soon as this "youth" hunt started, kids became stone cold killers. These cows came in with holes in their head, upper neck, ears...perfect shots to not ruin one bit of meat. I thought that above all was quite telling.

Besides, there isn't a 6,7, or 8 yo kid that could possibly be safe stumbling through this brush and steep country here with a rifle. No way!!!! I can barely push through some of it.

Sitting next to some hayfield, with the rifle propped up on sticks pulling a trigger doesn't make a kid a hunter.

If it is soooooo important to somebody that their kid pulls the trigger, then they will surely use their own tag on the animal. If you have more than one kid, tough, get your wifey poo out there for her tag then, but then you're done.

Can you see through the condescension of your post?
 

theat

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I have mixed feeling about this. On the one hand, I do know several kids that are mature enough to hunt that are under 12. On the other hand I know a bunch that I would never want to be near with a gun in their hands.

Drahthaar is right about the use of kids for filling tags. Several times I have been at check stations when fathers pulled up with a cow elk in the bed of the truck and their 12 year old daughter sitting in the cab. The fathers were soaking wet from hunting in the rain and their daughter was still in their nightgown with slippers on. I even got the chance to ask one of the girls about the hunt and she got very nervous and couldn't tell me any specifics. When I told the warden about my suspicions, he said that it happens all the time and he doesn't like to cause problems when kids are involved.
 

Gerald Martin

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So for everyone who says that dropping the minimum age for kids will increase violations, those anecdotes of illegal activity provided above are with kids who are already of legal age. How will dropping the minimum age requirement increase illegal activity of parents who have already demonstrated their willingness to break the law? Those parents are going to do that activity whether the kid is 8 or the kid is 14. It's a matter of character not age. If the youth hunts (12-15) are causing a strain on the resources because of adults abusing the system then that opportunity may need to be curtailed in order to protect the resource. But don't use a strawman argument that lowering the age limit will increase more abuse
.
We in Montana (especially on this site) like to argue for science based decisions based on real life data, not emotional arguments. Opponents of lowering the age limit would have much more support for their objections were they able to prove that states with no age limit have a higher rate of accidents in that segment of their population under the age of 12. The problem for those opponents is that the science and the data does not support their emotional objection to lowing the age limit.

We in Montana are also very fond of the rhetoric that just because other states do it, doesn't mean we should. Very well. I accept that argument. But I would also propose that just because other states allow it doesn't mean we SHOULDN'T allow it because we never have.

This may come to a shock to some, but just because a (gasp)outfitter(Eric Albus) supports this doesn't mean it is an issue DIY hunters should oppose. :D

I'm sorry to say that on this issue, some individuals whose opinions I highly respect on other issues come off like grumpy old men who are resistant to change merely because it is change. If you have an emotional disagreement with changing the age limit, well and good. But acknowledge it as such and don't act like the end of hunting as we know it hangs on whether kids under the age of 12 are allowed to hunt. BTW, it is currently legal for 11 year olds to hunt if they turn 12 before Jan 16 of that hunting season. Has there been a statistical climb in the amount of violations?

As far as the dangers of young kids with guns in the woods, I would fully support making all kids pass a hunter safety course before being allowed to hunt. In fact, make the course even tougher and don't allow anyone who can't pass with a high score be certified to hunt whether they are 6 or whether they are 16.

I would be delighted to allow my children under the age of 12 to hunt with me on my tag like Drahthaar suggested.

My son shot his first deer last year a week before he turned nine. Too bad he has to wait two more years before he can hunt in his home state. With a cleanly killed deer and over 50 squirrels to his credit, he is obviously not as qualified as many 12 year old kids to hunt here in Montana. But I can say I would much rather hunt next to him than many of the 13 and 14 year olds who were in my daughters Hunter Ed class.
 

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drahthaar

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Can you see through the condescension of your post?

You started the thread, I asked a question and gave my opinion, based on what I know to be true in my experience. I hunt in two HDs, period. Seeing more than 4 or 5 elk at once in those HDs is rare. The last thing I want is for dad and uncle joe slamming elk for jr, just cuz they are "mentoring", if you think that isn't or wasn't happening, keep your head in the sand.

Basically, I don't give a rip what you think Mr. Perfect.

But thanks for reminding me why I have steered clear of internet forums. Carry on!
 

JLS

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You started the thread, I asked a question and gave my opinion, based on what I know to be true in my experience. I hunt in two HDs, period. Seeing more than 4 or 5 elk at once in those HDs is rare. The last thing I want is for dad and uncle joe slamming elk for jr, just cuz they are "mentoring", if you think that isn't or wasn't happening, keep your head in the sand.

Basically, I don't give a rip what you think Mr. Perfect.

But thanks for reminding me why I have steered clear of internet forums. Carry on!

My head isn't in the sand, and I have no idea what kind of burr you have under your saddle.

Dad and Uncle Joe can and do use their spouse's, mom's, aunt's, and girlfriend's tags just as easily.

If you don't like my post, then maybe you should go back and read Gerald's again. Really not sure why this topic has to cause so much angst.
 

tjones

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I was hoping that folks are capable of civil discussion. Maybe I overestimated the odds of that.


Imagine a 10 year old with a mentor archery hunting an elk with lighted nocks they saw on a trail camera after corner hopping.
 

Eric Albus

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JLS...you way overestimated....but was with good intentions.

tjones...I did not compare having a drivers license to running farm machinery, there is no comparison.. I merely stated that my kids were running tractors/semi-trucks long prior to being licensed...

so it is better for the kids to shoot a buck on grandma's tag, or for a kid to have a youth/mentor/apprentice license...and learn to not break the law?
 

Oak

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so it is better for the kids to shoot a buck on grandma's tag, or for a kid to have a youth/mentor/apprentice license...and learn to not break the law?

What?? Learning to not break the law has nothing to do with having a hunting license or not. It has to do with the integrity of the parents.
 

tjones

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so it is better for the kids to shoot a buck on grandma's tag, or for a kid to have a youth/mentor/apprentice license...and learn to not break the law?


Again Eric, are all parents/adults good hunting mentors?
 

Gerald Martin

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tjones- What does that question have to do with the age of the hunter? Will a bad parent/mentor be better when the child is 12 than he would be if the child is 10?

I'm with JLS on this one. I don't understand why this topic is the cause of any angst at all?

What?? Learning to not break the law has nothing to do with having a hunting license or not. It has to do with the integrity of the parents.

This^^^^^^^
 

tjones

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The mentor is hunting with and teaching the youth before hunters safety.

I have talked to lots of folks on this both for and against. I get the feeling of entitlement from the pro side. Little Johnny is ready and he is only 9 and by damn I should be able to take him. We shouldn't have to wait because I, as his/her parent know best,

Just my opinion, ymmv.
 
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JLS

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There are different kinds of mentoring programs, and Hunter Ed waivers that exist.

Idaho's youth mentor program is more geared towards the NR hunter. Basically, it allows a youth hunter to purchase a license/tag at resident fees provided that they are accompanied by a legally licensed adult hunter. It does not have to be a parent or guardian. The tags must be for the same species. When my middle daughter is older I will likely hunt in Idaho in order to take advantage of this opportunity.

Oregon's program allows a youth to shoot an animal on their parent's tag. The youth does not have to be Hunter Ed certified. The youth must be WITH the adult at all times. Any youths between ages 9 and 14 can participate.

Washington allows for a one time Hunter Ed deferral, where the mentored hunter must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. This program is not just for kids, but also for young adults who want to try hunting and have not taken Hunter Ed. The need for the deferral has decreased some with the increasing use of the online Hunter Ed course that is offered. This course is VERY popular with young adults, a good many of which are females.

Obviously each state has to ultimately decide what it hopes to accomplish with a youth mentoring program. Per the text from Montana's senate bill, it would have allowed for a two year deferral for Hunter Ed for youths as young as 10 years of age.

While I would never minimize the importance of Hunter Education, I do think that there is a place for programs such as these. As hunter numbers decrease, our voice becomes smaller and we become increasingly irrelevant.
 

tjones

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Great info JLS. Thanks for posting it.


I believe more access and game in the hills has more to do with hunter recriutment then starting them early, but that's just me.
 
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