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 to be a barrier to hunting. The new Mentored Youth Hunt program is an effort to get youngsters interested in the sport at a young 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 program. Youth that participate in this new program will still be required to take hunter education if they hunt unsupervised before age 18.
The Mentored Youth Hunt Program is based on the recommendations of ODFW’s Hunter Recruitment Advisory Committee and the experience of other states. Programs that eliminate or reduce age restrictions have been approved in 12 other states and are pending in five others. These programs are partly designed to address the decline in hunting. In 1980, there were 392,000 resident license holders in Oregon. By 2005, that number had declined to 260,000 licensed hunters.
The program took effect August 3, 2007, after the Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules governing the program.
A supervising hunter (mentor) is an individual 21 years of age or older with a valid hunting license/tag/stamp for the dates, area and animal being hunted. This person will serve as a guide to a mentored youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, firearm use and wildlife identification.
No, but he or she must have all required licenses/tags/stamps for the hunt and review a form indicating basic hunting safety information has been reviewed with the youth. (See page 2 for more information.) The supervising hunter is also accountable for all the actions of the youth hunter. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to follow all hunting regulations and ensure that each mentored youth is trained in firearm and hunter safety before engaging in hunting or related activities.
Any youth age 9 through 13 who is accompanied by a supervising hunter and hunting using the supervisor’s tag or stamp qualifies as a mentored youth. A youth is not eligible to participate in the program if the youth possesses their own valid hunting license and tag(s) valid for the dates, area and species being hunted.
In this situation, the youngster can only hunt under the program for game animals for which he/she has no tag. For example, a youngster with a hunting license could not hunt for rabbits under the mentor program (because no tag is required) but could hunt with a mentor for elk (provided the youngster has no tag for that particular elk hunt).
Yes, non-resident hunters can participate as a youth or a supervising hunter.
No, but they must review and acknowledge understanding of material on safe hunting practices provided by ODFW. This Safe Hunting Information section must be reviewed by both supervising hunter and youth and the youth must keep a signed copy of the form on their person during the hunt. Any youth that participates in the program must also annually complete a registration form and mail it to ODFW, Information and Education, 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem, OR 97302.
- A supervising hunter can only hunt with one youth at a time. However, the supervising hunter may mentor several youth during a hunting season and a youth may hunt with several mentors or the same mentor on several occasions.
- Only one legal hunting weapon between the supervisor and youth is allowed while hunting.
- The supervisor 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.
- It is strongly recommended that the supervising hunter and mentored youth wear blaze orange during hunting or related activities.
The close supervision of an experienced hunter is probably the best way to introduce a young person to safe, ethical and responsible hunting. Besides the one-to-one ratio of supervisor to youth requirement, the program also has several safety precautions built into it, such as the presence of only one legal hunting weapon, the requirement that youth be within immediate control of the supervisor, and the review and acknowledgement of safety information by both parties prior to hunting. Data from other states that have adopted mentored-hunt programs show no increase in hunting incidents. Recent information released by the National Wild Turkey Federation indicated there was not a single hunting-related incident during the past year among 34,000 new hunters in six states that recently adopted a type of mentored youth hunting program.
All wildlife for which the supervising hunter has valid license/tag/stamp.
Any game taken by the youth will be counted towards the supervising hunter’s limit.& Because the mentored youth hunter program is intended to introduce youth to hunting, a youngster with their own valid license/tag/stamp for a given animal will not be allowed to participate in a mentored hunt for that particular animal.
As an incentive to participate, youth will receive one mentored youth preference point for each year they register for the program. The maximum number the youth could receive is five points, if they registered annually from age 9-13. The mentored youth preference points will be “banked” and held in ODFW’s licensing system without an expiration date until the youth is ready to apply for a controlled hunt, even if it is after the youth turns 18. All banked points must be used at one time, towards one controlled hunt choice.
Youth may register for the Mentored Youth Hunter Program 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
Youth must register each calendar year in which they participate.
No. A youth is not required to re-register for the MYHP if they hunt with different adult supervising hunters over the course of the calendar year. A supervising hunter can only hunt with one youth at a time. However, the supervising hunter may mentor several youth during a hunting season and a youth may hunt with several mentors or the same mentor on several occasions.
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.