There’s a present under the tree that can’t be opened until the weekend after Christmas for boys and girls 15 years of age or younger.

It’s the Free Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, Dec. 29-30 and the Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week, Dec. 29 through Jan. 4, 2013, open to both resident and non-resident youth.

Youth hunters and trappers are not required to have licenses, permits or hunter education certification, but must be accompanied by an adult.

During the Free Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, deer of either sex may be taken statewide in Zones 1-4. Any legal equipment such as a long bow, a recurve bow, a compound bow, a crossbow, a muzzleloader or a modern gun may be used to take deer. All bag limits, zone restrictions and other deer hunting restrictions apply.

“On average about 1,000 deer are taken,” said Tina Brunjes, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It’s all about providing youth with an opportunity to hunt during the late season.”

Deer are typically keying on food sources, such as greening fields of winter wheat, during the late season.

During the seven-day Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week, opportunities abound as furbearers may be hunted or trapped and small game hunters may go after rabbits, quail and squirrels.

They may pursue ducks, geese and migratory birds as well. These species may be hunted without state or federal permits, including a trapping license, Kentucky Waterfowl Permit or Federal Waterfowl Stamp. Bag limits and other regulations apply.

“The Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week is an excellent time to mentor youth,” said Karen Waldrop, director of wildlife for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The long holiday weekend offers plenty of time to introduce them to a wide range of hunting opportunities.”

The special youth hunting and trapping seasons were established in 2003 by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Logo courtesy Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

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