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Young Texas hunters get first shot during special weekend

From the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

-- Instead of sacking sweets this Halloween, many young Texans will be bagging wild game during the special youth-only hunting weekend Oct. 30-31.

The goal of youth-only seasons is to pass the hunting heritage on to the next generation of hunters.

"The youth-only weekend offers a chance to mentor young hunters and can be a valuable management tool on ranches needing to reduce antlerless deer numbers," according to Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division director.

Oct. 30-31 will be special youth-only seasons for white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey. A youth-only late season is also available Jan. 3-16. During the statewide special youth-only hunting weekend, licensed youth 16 years of age or younger will be allowed to harvest white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey.

The department has coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer a youth-only waterfowl season in the North and South Duck Zones on Oct. 23-24 for licensed youth 15 years of age or younger.

A Special Youth Hunting License ($7) is required and may be purchased wherever hunting licenses are sold, as well as online and by phone at (800)895-4248 for an additional convenience fee.

This year, more than 139,000 special youth hunting licenses have been sold, evidence that hunting continues to be an important pursuit among young Texans.

To make room for the new generation of Texas hunters, TPWD has made an extra effort to open as much public hunting land as possible to youth hunting on department-managed lands. Youth who are hunting on TPWD lands must be accompanied by a supervising adult 18 years of age or older who possesses the required Annual Public Hunting permit, a valid hunting license and any required stamps and permits.

Youth hunts for either sex white-tailed deer are scheduled during the special weekend season on public hunting units, mostly in East Texas. Youth waterfowl hunts are available on many public hunting units.

The Annual Public Hunting Permit is a $48 permit, valid from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the following year. The APH permit allows an adult access to designated public hunting lands in the TPWD public hunting lands program. With the APH permit, hunting is allowed for small game, turkey, white-tailed deer, exotics, predators, furbearers, and fishing without having to pay daily permit fees and in most instances, without having to be selected in a drawing.

General season bag limits for the county hunted apply during the youth-only weekend, but some additional restrictions may apply in certain areas so be sure to check the 2010-11 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations before heading afield.

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