By JENNIFER JACKSON
This past general deer season in southeast Idaho was like any other season in recent years, with one major exception. This year, Fish and Game conservation officers and community partners shared in the hunting tradition with various youth in this region’s first-ever mentored deer hunts.
Similar to the “Fish with an Officer” programs our region has been running for the last few years, the southeast region conservation officers worked together with businesses, private donors and landowners to provide opportunities for youth to hunt with an officer.
“This mentored hunt program was designed to get kids outdoors and introduce them to the sport of hunting,” said Korey Owens, senior conservation officer stationed in Preston. “Officers most importantly taught hunting ethics, safety, rules and skills. There was no guarantee that the youth would harvest an animal, only the guarantee that we would get them outside hunting.”
This guarantee was enough to get over 120 essays submitted by Preston Junior High students on why they wanted to go on a youth mentored hunt with a Fish and Game conservation officer. Two youth, Mark Nate, 12, and Krystal Marcham, 13, were chosen based both on the quality of the essays and for the reasons they shared for wanting to go on their first deer hunt with officers.
Luck was definitely on Mark Nate’s side that day. He got his first deer. “Thirteen-year old Krystal Marcham was the other youth selected for the mentored hunts. Another first-time hunter, Krystal had never fired a high-powered rifle. So, before the hunt, Senior Conservation Officers, Owens and Cody Allen of Montpelier, took her to the shooting range for instruction and practice.
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