Opportunities abound for youth hunters

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Age doesn't have to be a barrier to fun, safe and successful small and big-game hunts in Colorado.

Since 1995 the state has offered low-cost hunting and fishing licenses to youths ages 16 and younger, and those affordable rates continue this year for interested resident and non-resident youth hunters and anglers.

All children 16 years old and younger can purchase small game hunting licenses for $1. The cost of the license includes a search and rescue fee. There is no minimum age for the license provided the applicant meets all hunter safety and education requirements, including completion of a hunter education course and possession of a valid hunter safety/education card.

All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. The adult mentor also must have a hunter safety/education card if he or she was born on or after Jan. 1, 1949.

Under the provisions of the youth small-game hunting license, children can take full bag and possession limits of small game.

Eligible youth hunters are permitted to acquire a full-priced small game hunting license that allows them to hunt without an adult mentor. The state Division of Wildlife, however, encourages all children to hunt with experienced adults.

For children looking to bag larger animals such as elk, deer and antelope, a youth big-game hunting license can be purchased for $10 for state residents and $100 for nonresidents. The discounted big-game licenses apply only to deer, elk and pronghorn antelope hunting, and the hunter must specify which big-game animal they plan to hunt.

As with the youth small game hunting licenses, the big-game hunting licenses can only be purchased by children who meet the state's hunter safety and education requirements. Unlike the small game hunting licenses, only children ages 12 to 15 years old can purchase the big-game license. Children ages 11 and younger aren't allowed to hunt big game in the state, and youths 16 years and older are required to purchase a full-priced big-game license.

The DOW has implemented several programs geared specifically for young hunters. The DOW's Hunter Outreach Program includes youth big-game hunting opportunities across the state. Similar hunting programs are available for small game such as waterfowl, dove and pheasants. For more information visit the DOW online at http://wildlife.state.co.us.

There are several hunting areas in the state set aside specifically for youth hunting, including areas in Routt and Moffat counties.

The State Trust Lands and State Wildlife Areas provide youth hunters and their mentors the opportunity to hunt a variety of game, such as deer, elk, rabbit, pheasant, turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, waterfowl and dove. Different regulations apply in these areas, and the DOW recommends hunters check with property managers and brochures for more information.

Coal Bank Gulch, located in Game Management Unit 441, is about 2.5 miles north of Hayden. The 879-acre State Trust Land is open from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28. Elk, deer and sharp-tailed grouse are among the hunting opportunities. However, hunting is only allowed with archery, muzzleloaders and rim-fire rifles.

For more information on Coal Bank Gulch, call 870-2197.

The 460-acre Fly Gulch area is north of Steamboat Springs off Routt County Road 129. Like Coal Bank Gulch, the Fly Gulch area is open from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28. Deer, elk and various small game are prevalent in the area. The property can only be accessed by foot or horseback. For more information call 870-2197.

In Moffat County, the Oxbow State Trust Land area is 17 miles northwest of Maybell. The 640-acre property is open from Aug. 15 through Feb. 28. Hunting opportunities include deer, elk, antelope, waterfowl, dove, rabbit and prairie dog. For more information, call 824-3046. n

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