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The inaugural Youth Waterfowl Hunt at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge was a huge success. Youth ages 12-17 spent January 4-6, 2013 receiving hands-on instruction ranging from firearm safety to waterfowl identification, to hunting and cleaning of the birds.
The event activities began Friday after the young hunters checked-in; a meeting was held and several topics were covered such as gun safety, clay pigeon shoot, bird identification, hunting regulations, and history. A raffle for prizes was held, dinner was served, and the mentors drew for their hunting blinds.
On Saturday morning, the hunters were up at 4:30 am., and were treated to a breakfast at 4:45 am. After breakfast the hunters convoyed to Pintail Slough, where the young hunters were given their shotguns. Decoys were set up by the mentors by 6:15 am.; the temperature was 16 degrees, so ice had to be broken to set up the decoys. The young hunters sat quietly in their blinds with one young hunter's parent and one mentor until the hunt began at approximately 7:17 am. The hunt ended at 12 Noon, at which time the blinds were cleaned up, the hunters checked out with federal officers, and the mentors retrieved the ducks. After the hunt, the group returned to the school where lunch was served. After lunch, the young hunters had an opportunity to practice archery on a range set up by Havasu NWR Staff. A raffle, dinner, and a drawing for blinds was also held after the hunt.
A similar schedule was followed on the Sunday hunt. The hunting was a bit slower, but the kids had better accuracy and knew what to expect. The second young hunters' parent was allowed in the blind with the two hunters and mentor. The morning was not as chilly as Saturday morning. The mentors retrieved the waterfowl. One mentor, Ward Villamore, brought his dog Dory in to make the retrieving task easier for some of the hunters. The hunt ended at Noon, and the group returned to the school for lunch and other activities.
The event was a great success; the young hunters, their parents, and the mentors thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This event was made possible through a partnership with Arizona Game and Fish, the Friends of the Bill Williams River and Havasu National Wildlife Refuges, Ducks Unlimited, and Topock Elementary School.
See the Slide Show below for images from the event (Photos by Jacky Daugherty, Chad Villamore, Jennifer Rose).
For more information about hunting regulations in Arizona go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's website located HERE