Our youth have an opportunity to learn about duck hunting from experts with the Youth Waterfowl Hunt, sponsored by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The hunt, which takes place in several areas around the state, including on private land in Sherburn, puts youth in the care of Ducks Unlimited mentors to show them the ins and outs of the sport.
Only 80 kids will be chosen to participate through an application system.
Applications for the hunt are available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us and are due Aug. 13.
A lottery will be held to determine which youths are chosen to participate in the activity.
In addition to actually hunting, the program will offer techniques, skills, and safety information to youth ages 12-15, who have never hunted waterfowl.
Students need to have a firearms safety certificate prior to the hunt date.
The program takes place Sept. 7 and 8.
Youth hunts have become vital to hunting and conservation groups in recent years as the average age of hunters increases and young enthusiasts are less likely to take their place.
According to the Chain of Lakes-Fairmont chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, the number of hunters peaked in the United States in 1985 at 16.8 million.
By 2001, it had dropped 23 percent to about 12.4 million.
If current trends hold, by 2025 there will be just 9.9 million hunters.
Hunters maintain they are vital to conservation efforts and controlling animal populations.
They are critical partners in keeping land and waterways used by waterfowl in prime condition.
Other locations available for the youth hunt are near Detroit Lakes, southern metro area, near Morris, near Little Falls, and near Buffalo.
The Youth Waterfowl Hunt is co-sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, National Wildlife Refuges, Midwest Extreme Outdoors and the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club.
Applicants will be randomly drawn by lottery to participate in one of the youth waterfowl hunts. Preference will be given to novice hunters.