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South Dakota Offers More Opportunities for Young Hunters

From South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission

-- Two South Dakota hunting seasons have been expanded to allow more opportunities for young hunters and more opportunities are on the way.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has approved changes in the youth pheasant season that lengthen the season and allow hunting to start earlier in the day. The 2008 season will be lengthened to five days running Saturday, Oct. 4, through Wednesday, Oct. 8.

"This is part of a trend we're working toward in South Dakota - more opportunities for youth," said Wildlife Division Assistant Director George Vandel. The season approved by the GFP Commission raises the minimum age for participation from 15 to 17.

Because early October can still have some hot days, shooting hours during the youth pheasant season will start at 10 a.m. rather than noon. "This should make it easier for both the hunters and their hunting dogs," Vandel said.

At its May meeting the GFP Commission finalized a significantly longer youth deer hunting season. The season will run statewide from Sept. 13 through Jan. 31, 2009. Last year's season was held Sept. 8 through Sept. 16 and Dec. 8 through Jan. 31.

Vandel said the season was lengthened in response to requests from the public.

"We heard that with the uncertainties of weather and busy school schedules, a shorter season didn't allow enough time to ensure that young hunters could get out in the field," Vandel said. "This season creates more opportunities for young hunters."

The age limit in the youth deer season also increased. Now young hunters who have not turned 18 by June 30 will be allowed to take part in the season. Previously the season was limited to hunters who had not turned 16 by June 30.

To further expand opportunities and introduce youth to hunting, the South Dakota Legislature passed a law allowing GFP to establish a hunter mentoring program that allows youngsters 10 to 15 years old who have not taken the hunter safety course to hunt if they are mentored by an unarmed parent or guardian.

"Our plan is to bring a recommendation package to the June commission meeting for mentored youth hunting seasons that include deer, turkey, and antelope," Vandel told the commission.

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