Junior hunters were given a special hunting opportunity on December 8th and 15th at the Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges’ (NWR) 22nd Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunts. All hunting blinds and assigned ponds on the two Refuges were set aside exclusively for junior hunters (age 16 and under) for the day. These opportunities offer junior hunters the chance to hunt on a wildlife refuge with a parent or guardian to experience the excitement and enjoyment of waterfowl hunting.

The juniors were eager for the waterfowl hunting opportunity and were teeming with excitement at 4:30 a.m. when the event orientation began. Accompanied by a responsible adult, the juniors set into the hunt area and returned hours later ready to share and compare experiences with their fellow hunters over a warm lunch.

First time waterfowl hunters came out of the field with big smiles and passionate conversation about their first hunting experience and for many, their first harvest. Willows Kiwanis Club provided a hot dog BBQ with chips, drinks and the entire fixings at the Sacramento NWR hunt.  At the Delevan NWR hunt, California Waterfowl volunteer Rich Ambrosino cooked his famous homemade chili.

Over the two days, 88 juniors harvested 138 birds, with a waterfowl average of 1.0 at Sacramento NWR and 2.4 at Delevan NWR. Some hunters traveled long distances ranging from Redding and Hollister to Fort Bragg and Cloverdale. Each junior was provided with the experience of connecting with nature through developing a greater understanding of their quarry and its environment.

In addition to providing the space for the young hunters to practice their marksmanship, the event promotes well-rounded knowledge of waterfowl, ethics, good sportsmanship, refuge regulations and safe hunting practices through talks and activities hosted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Waterfowl, and CSU, Chico Volunteers. Junior hunters were given California Waterfowl hats, offered a free picture with a frame, encouraged to participate in a “Junior Hunter Whiz Quiz”, and played games identifying waterfowl species, judging distances and creating decoy arrangements to encourage hunting knowledge.

Sutter NWR will be providing a new post season youth hunt on February 2, 2013 run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. You may apply for this special youth hunting opportunity by sending in a post card with the youth hunters name, address, and go id number to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex by January 11, 2013. For more information please visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/sacramentovalleyrefuges/.

Image courtesy Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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