There are two days that many first-time Minnesotan hunters will have marked in their 2012 calendars: April 21st and 22nd. Why? It’s the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt. Unlike the other days of the season, these two days will allow young hunters to get the first crack at these elusive birds. For most, it will be their first time out hunting period.
This isn’t only the case in Minnesota. Across the U.S., it’s a popular spring tradition that before it’s open season for turkey hunting, there is a day or two (or more) where only youth can hunt. The youth turkey hunt has proven a great time to introduce new hunters to the great tradition of hunting. First, they are not competing against the seasoned vets of the sport, so their chances of bagging a turkey are good, and second, they get to share the experience with an adult, who is focused on keeping the youngster safe.
Dates, ages and other requirements vary greatly from state to state. Florida had the earliest hunt starting on February 25th, 2012. Nebraska has the latest, ending May 31st. In some states there is no minimum age requirement. In Minnesota, hunters need to be 12 years of age and hold a firearms safety certificate.
Because it can be tough to find all the relevant information, we thought it would be a good idea to start collecting it in a handy table with links to each state’s youth turkey hunt. Just click on the following image for all the state-by-state information (and if you have any corrections or information to add, please let us know).
Safety is the most important consideration in any hunting activity and particularly the youth hunt. The great news is that these hunts have proven very safe. The annual number of incidents on average is low, and continues to decrease every year.
Nearly every state now requires a mandatory hunter education program and this is one of the main reasons for decreasing accident rates over the years. But because youth hunts are for introducing kids to the sport, in many states it is not necessary for the new hunter to have completed hunter education prior to the hunt (as long as their adult supervisor holds the proper certification).* Hopefully this experience will get the young hunter interested enough so that when they can take a hunter education course and apply for a hunter license, they will.
The youth turkey hunt is a great way to get beginner hunters started on the right foot. If we’re patient, safe, and focused on the new hunter’s enjoyment, we’ll be sure to have eager hunters in the years to come. It’s all about learning for the newbie. Getting a monster gobbler is secondary.
*If you do need a hunter education certificate in your state, sign up for a class or online course now. Early season classes and field days fill up quickly!!