When Randy Hampton joined the Colorado Division of Wildlife, he took his young son on a DOW youth hunt through the agency's Hunter Outreach Program.
"It was a great experience for my son and for me," said Hampton, DOW spokesman. "This gives young people the opportunity to go out and get that private land hunt experience."
It's an opportunity that many state residents use, Hampton said. DOW often has more youths interested in signing up for its Outreach Program than it has spaces available.
But, officials would like to change that.
"Sportsmen's groups, involved sportsmen's groups, always ask us how we can do more," Hampton said. "Well, we need volunteers."
The DOW is accepting registration information for free two-day Huntmaster training classes to certify volunteers for the Outreach Program.
Classes this year will be offered Aug. 16 and 17 at the DOW Regional Office in Grand Junction, 711 Independent Ave. Registration forms have to be submitted by July 31.
Course instruction will focus on preparing volunteers to lead hunts with inexperienced youth.
The program is part of a larger effort to continue the tradition of hunting in Colorado, Hampton said.
"What we've found, with the numbers of hunters declining nationally, there are some hurdles for young people to start hunting, though they may want to," Hampton said. "In some cases, there's a single parent that may not have the time or the resources to take their kid hunting, or in other cases, the parents may not be that interested, and so the kid doesn't have anyone around to teach them.
"We attempt to give those young people the opportunity to learn how to be a good hunter, practice good wildlife habits and experience a quality hunt."
In each youth hunt, the DOW provides all food and campground equipment, including firewood.
Big game hunts range from doe deer to cow elks and one cow moose hunt in the North Park area.
Youth who wish to sign up for an Outreach Program hunt can go to the DOW Web site at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/HunterOutreach/YouthHuntingBigGame/ to find an application and more information.
Adults who would like to enter the Huntmaster training program can go to http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/HunterOutreach/VolunteersAndHuntmasters/ for a registration form.
For answers to any questions, contact Jim Bulger, DOW Hunter Outreach Coordinator, at (303) 291-7248.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org