Skip to main content

NSSF: Pandemic Spurs on Youth Hunting in America

National Shooting Sports Foundation explains why the kids are all right.

NSSF: Pandemic Spurs on Youth Hunting in America

When youth get involved in hunting at an early age, they can carry the passion for a lifetime. (Shutterstock image)

The priceless memories created from a hunting trip with dads or moms can stay with sons and daughters for a lifetime. Creating more of those opportunities has become even easier.

The onset of coronavirus and the historic firearm sales spurred by it increased America's gun-owning population across all demographics. Simultaneously, that boost also reversed a trend that will have lasting effects for outdoorsmen and women and conservationists for generations. Americans in big numbers took to the fields and woods to hunt and that included kids discovering an outdoors lifestyle.

South Dakota Republican state Rep. Lynn Schneider supported a new measure to lower the age requirement on youth hunting in his state and recognizes why the boon matters. He explained that when younger hunters get "involved in hunting and trapping at an early age…we’ve then got a hunter, a fisherman and a trapper for the next 40 years."

Small Hunters. Big Game

If there were any doubt small hunters could tag big game, the 2020-2021 hunting season put the notion to rest. Fourteen-year old Paslie Werth in Kansas went out one Sunday afternoon for a deer hunt with her dad and she came home happy. After nearly giving up on the day, Werth saw some movement and found not just her target, but a world record 42-point non-typical whitetail just before sundown.


"When we walked up on him, I was kind of in shock. I couldn't believe that what had just happened had actually happened," Werth told local news. "He was way bigger than I thought, and I couldn't believe how heavy his rack was. My hands couldn't even go around his antlers."


In Clark County Wisconsin, a young hunter felled a black bear weighing more than 10 times her weight. Eleven-year old Naiya Iraci wanted to hunt bear with her grandfather on his property. Iraci lined up on a 720-pound black bear from about 30 yards away. It was the first she'd seen. "I was nervous, I was kind of shaking," Iraci said. Not shaking enough to miss, though, and she harvested the state's record bear.

In Morrisville, N.C., Bryan Alexander took his 13-year-old daughter Emma on her first turkey hunt. She didn't go home empty-handed. After walking a field and reaching a place to set up, the two thought they heard a snake rustling through the brush. When Bryan threw a stick to scare it off, they saw three gobblers rush by. Emma aimed her shotgun and dropped a gobbler with a 10-inch beard and 1 ¼-inch spurs.

In Alabama, 9-year-old Ella Clay dropped a 10-point buck while her 10-year old friend Dee Tully took home two greenhead mallards on a recent excursion. Stories like these were common during the recent hunting seasons and will undoubtedly stay with these kids, their families and friends for decades.

States Encourage Youth Hunting

South Dakota and New York recognized the opportunities created by more outdoor social distancing and encouraged youth hunting. South Dakota completely removed youth hunting age restrictions, costs or fees. The purpose is to get the lost funds from kid licenses back in the coming years through new hunting traditions.




Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, an avid hunter, praised the new guidelines. "2020 was a tremendous year for youth hunting and fishing in South Dakota, and we're building on that for the future," she said. "The goal of this legislation is to get more young people involved in our outdoor way of life at an early age so they continue those experiences long into their adulthood."

In New York, state legislators are proposing to drop the state minimum age for youth hunters by two years, from 14 to 12, bringing the Empire State more in line with the rest of the nation. New York Republican state Senator Dan Stec said the proposal was a way of taking advantage of the increased interest in hunting. "The sporting community saw a big boost this past year. Many more hunting licenses were sold and there was a dramatic increase in hunter education courses."

It's exactly what NSSF's +Onesm encourages. +One challenges traditional hunters to bring one new hunter along on the next outing. The experience will last a lifetime and grow the traditions and perpetuate conservation. It might even help a young hunter take home a trophy.

Recommended


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.
Fishing

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.
Fishing

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.
Fishing

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.
Gear

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.
Gear

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.
Gear

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.
Gear

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.
Gear

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.
Gear

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now