7th annual Youth Hunt held at I.D. Fairchild Oct. 27-28
Tx A&M Forest Service and Tx Parks & Wildlife Department teamed up Oct. 27 and 28 to sponsor the 7th annual Youth Hunt at I.D.Fairchild state forest. Twelve hunters ages 8 to 15 from Texas and Oklahoma had the opportunity for hands-on instruction and experience. Pictured (in no particular order) are Jeremiah Adams (10), Gavin Glover (10), Carson Wilson (15), Dante Letteri (9), Jakob Hardy (10), Caison Matney (12), Kelton Whisenhunt (14), Justice Kessel (9), Maryanna Ebert (9), Blake Casper (13), Triston Metreyeon (10) and Tristen Taylor (9).
Just west of Maydelle this weekend 12 young hunters participated in the 7th annual Youth Hunt, held Oct 27 and 28 in the 2,800 acre I.D. Fairchild State Forest. Located near the banks of the Neches River, Fairchild is the largest state managed forest in Texas with primary concerns of wildlife, timber, recreation and water quality.
Red cockaded woodpeckers, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer are top of the list species in the Fairchild. Once a year, it is opened up for white-tailed harvest with a carefully calculated and regulated quota as the goal. Wildlife management is key to maintaining a balance between animals’ and humans’ needs in a shared environment to ensure a continued positive interaction between inhabitants.
Hunting is a big part of conservation, not only as a management tool, but because hunters basically foot the bill for the cost of wildlife management.
Kids from around the state and local youngsters who spent a beautiful fall weekend in the woods were Jeremiah Adams (10) of Arlington with Tom Emy of Troup; Gavin (10) and dad Grant Glover of Alto; Carson (15) and grandfather Stephen Wilson of Ft. Worth; Dante Letteri (9) with Patrick Beeker of Dallas; Jakob Hardy (10) and Shane Hardy of Troup; Caison (12) with dad David Matney of Little Elm; Kelton (14) and Derral Whisenhunt of Livingston; Justice (9) and Daniel Kessel of Grapeland; Maryanna Ebert (9) of Tulsa, OK accompanied by Michael Banks of Jacksonville; Blake Casper (13) of Sacul with dad Jeffrey; Tristan (10) and Jason Metreyeon of League City; and Tristen (9) with dad Scott Taylor of Alto.
Before entering a stand or blind, each participant at the Fairchild is required to have a hunting license and some type of hunter safety education. They must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who has hunter safety education.
After an orientation session by Reuben Gay, wildlife biologist for Cherokee County Tx Parks & Wildlife Department and District Forester Jason Ellis, Jacksonville office of Tx A&M Forest Service. Ellis, the hunters and chaperones were taken out to a prepared blind with radios and instructions. Hunter ethics are observed and periodic check-in is required. All participants are given observation forms and asked to record all deer they see as well as turkeys or feral hogs.
Mr. Ellis said, “I feel like we are even more organized this year. I think we get a little better every year. This is an excellent educational opportunity for the kids and their parents to learn what hunting is about and to learn about forest management by seeing everything we do here. It’s also a great partnership between the two agencies.”
Mr. Gay said, “The purpose of this hunt is to maintain the white-tailed and other game population and manage them in a sustainable way so as to prevent a negative impact on vegetation and the land. This also provides public hunts on public lands for young people who may not otherwise have the chance to hunt.”
State-wide youth only drawn hunts (where names are drawn out of a pool) such as this one are held each fall on state forest land and wildlife management areas before regular season opens in order to give hunters age 7 to 17 an opportunity. Micah Poteet, Lufkin office of TP&WD biologist said, “There are four hunts going on this weekend in East Texas. These are early hunts for young hunters only. We have an aging hunter population and this is a way to encourage and train young hunters.”
Administrative work of the hunt is done by TP&WD and the field preparation work is done by TA&MFS. There is a two deer limit with a maximum of one buck with antler restrictions. This is all explained to participants before anyone goes in the woods. All persons must carry ID, a radio and a permit at all times.
Harvested deer are measured, samples are taken and then tested for disease such as chronic wasting disease. Records on this information are incorporated into a statewide database.
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