Youth Hunts Provide Memories, Opportunities
Oklahoma's youth are jumping at opportunities to hunt. Many Oklahomans do not have access to private property, so the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's (ODWC) Land Access Program (OLAP) and Private Lands Youth Hunt Program have become extremely popular. The Private Lands Youth Hunt Program has been a good opportunity for kids to learn about hunting, wildlife and conservation while they develop the spark that makes them want to continue the sport. The experience the youth have with their guardian is not something they will soon forget.
I was able to shoot my first deer thanks to this hunt and the generosity of the Noble Research Institute and neighboring private landowners.
— Jackson Adams,
2014 youth hunter
Oklahoma landowners are able to help develop the next generation of hunters through the youth hunt program. Private landowners, in partnership with ODWC, currently offer turkey and deer hunting opportunities each year to youth ages 12 to 17 selected through random drawings that take place in March and August, respectively. But the program does not limit opportunities to these species. Upland birds, waterfowl and even fishing opportunities may be offered in the future by landowners who want to support this worthy cause. The Noble Research Institute and the Walnut Bayou Deer Management Association has been a part of this program since 2013, and it has become one of our favorite events during the year.
Landowners who offer these opportunities are gifting memories to each of the young hunters selected. Jackson Adams, 12 years old at the time of his hunt, shares his experience hunting with his father and the accompanying Noble Research Institute guide.
"Out of all the times that I have been hunting, I definitely have a favorite; it was a hunt with the Noble Research Institute. Our guide took us to a spot that he had been scouting for a while. He had the deer patterned and knew exactly where to put me. I was able to shoot my first deer thanks to this hunt and the generosity of the Noble Research Institute and neighboring private landowners for the access to the land."
Jackson Adams, 2014 youth hunter
"As the father of a son drawn for this hunt, I can't say thank you enough to the Noble Research Institute, private neighboring landowners and our guide. This hunt created memories that we still talk about to this day. We relive those days of the hunt many times over as we prepare for upcoming seasons. We know how fortunate we were, especially now, to have been drawn. Our experience couldn't have happened without many people providing the time, effort and resources, and for that we will forever be thankful. I hope that everyone involved knows what an impact they had."
Chad Adams, father of youth hunter
Collectively, Oklahoma landowners are making deer hunting possible for 56 youths through this program in 2018 (ODWC regularly receives more than 200 applicants for the deer hunts). In April 2017, the Noble Research Institute offered the first private land youth turkey hunt in ODWC's program. The hunt attracted 175 applicants for 10 spots. Following its success, Noble added five hunters in 2018, which attracted 340 youth applicants for 15 spots. Program awareness will likely continue to grow, leaving a significant amount of youth out each year.