The tradition of hunting is on the decline in Oregon and nationwide. While Oregon’s population has grown, real numbers of hunters have declined. In 1980, there were 392,000 resident license holders in Oregon. By 2005, that number had declined to 260,000 licensed hunters.
Research demonstrates that early exposure is critical to people taking up hunting or other forms of outdoor recreation. But children and their families are busy today and have many more recreational choices. The current requirement for hunters under the age of 18 to take a hunter education class is a significant time commitment that some may perceive as a barrier to hunting.
Based on the recommendations of a hunter recruitment advisory committee, ODFW is introducing a new Mentored Youth Hunt program in an effort to get youngsters interested in the sport at an early age. The program is a “try before you buy” approach that allows youth ages 9 through 13 to hunt without first passing a hunter education class. It gives unlicensed youngsters the opportunity to receive mentored, one-on-one field training on the ethics, safety, responsibility and enjoyment of hunting while being closely supervised by a licensed adult.
Youth that participate in this new program will still be required to take a hunter education class if they want to hunt without supervision and using their own tags/stamps before age 18. The Mentored Youth Hunt program really just defers the hunter education requirement.
How it works
Any hunter over the age of 21 with all appropriate licenses/tags/stamps can serve as a mentor to any youth age 9 through 13 years old. Non-residents can also participate as youth or supervising hunters.
No additional license or fee is required. However, supervising hunters are responsible for training the youth in firearm and hunter safety before engaging in hunting or related activities. Also, youth that participate must annually register for the program. Registration can be done online, at license agents or by mail.
- Online - Register online by going to Online License Sales. If the youth has registered for the program before, enter their Hunter/AnglerID# (ODFW #) from the Point Redemption Form Letter received in February. If the youth has not registered for the program before, enter them as a new customer.
- License Agent – Register at a license agent by supplying the youth’s Hunter/AnglerID# (ODFW#) from the Point Redemption Form Letter. If the youth has not registered for the program before, enter them as a new customer.
- Mail – Fill out form in the Big Game Regulations and mail to ODFW, Information and Education, Attn: MYHP, 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem, OR 97303
Other safety requirements: The program has several safety precautions built into it:
- A supervising hunter can only hunt with one youth at a time.
- Only one legal firearm between the supervisor and youth is allowed while hunting.
- The supervising hunter must remain in immediate control of the youth, meaning the two must stay in close proximity at all times while the youth is in possession of a legal hunting weapon.
- Beginning Aug. 1, 2011, all hunters (including those participating in the mentored youth hunter program) ages 17 and under must wear a hunter orange upper garment or hat when hunting game mammals or upland birds (except turkey) with any firearm.
- It is strongly recommended that the supervising hunters wear blaze orange during hunting or related activities.
Tagging and preference points: Any game taken by the youth will be counted towards the supervising hunter’s limit. A youngster with their own valid license/tag/stamp for a given animal will not be allowed to participate in a mentored hunt for hat particular animal. As an incentive to participate, youth will receive one mentored youth preference point for each year they register for the program. When the youth is finally ready to apply for a controlled hunt, all points accrued must be used towards one controlled hunt choice.
These programs are funded by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Wallop-Breaux).
The Oregon Outdoor Skills Program is subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title IX of the Education Amendments 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and offers all persons the opportunity to participate in programs and activities regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. No individual will be turned away from or otherwise be denied access to or benefit from, any program or activity on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Complaints of discrimination should be sent to the Civil Rights Coordinator for Public Access, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop: WSFR-4020, Arlington, VA 22203.