BY STEVE VANTREESE
It will be kid stuff, but next weekend brings Kentucky's first gun hunting and harvest of deer for the 2019-20 hunting year.
The second weekend of October, Oct. 12-13 this year, brings Kentucky's statewide youth firearms deer season. It's the first of two firearms deer hunting weekends reserved for hunters age 15 and younger. The other short gun season for youngsters is Dec. 28-29, the free youth season when kid hunters aren't even required to have a youth hunting license or deer permit.
The thing that each youth must have to participate next weekend -- or during the free youth season -- is an adult, someone 18 or older, to accompany and oversee the junior hunter for safety concerns. The accompanying adult can assist and guide the kid partner, but the adult cannot hunt deer with a firearm during the outings.
Overseeing adults actually can hunt deer with archery or crossbow gear, inasmuch as those deer seasons are ongoing during the youth hunt. The firearms option, however, is strictly for those under age 16, and no chaperoning adult can allow his own activities to take away from attention to the youth hunters.
Technically, an adult must stay in position to immediately take control of the youngster's firearm in the event that the younger hunter be inclined to make a mistake.
The early October gun deer weekend is offered to kid hunters when it is for a couple of reasons. Especially early in the hunting year, it may help catch deer at a relatively moderate state of wariness. This is to say that on the second October Saturday, whitetails haven't been inundated with hunting pressure and may be strung less than piano-wire tight. They might not be pushovers, but they won't be as spooky as they'll be later in the year, an advantage for the youngster hunters.
Another potentially helpful edge to the early hunt is that it's more likely to be a mild weather endeavor. Particularly for the youngest of junior hunters, frosty to icy mornings are sometimes harder to enjoy in comfort than are those of early to mid-October.
After record high temperatures of late, however, frosty mornings begin to sound good. Perhaps the second weekend of the month this time will have more seasonally typical temperatures and will be neither too hot nor cold for ideals.
Although kids can take part during regular firearms seasons, the advantages and extra opportunities of the youth hunts are offered to entice youngsters and to encourage their parents, family or friends to introduce them to hunting. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources managers want to see the ranks of hunters in general and deer hunters especially increase.
There is a trend of hunters aging with demographics of bigger numbers of "baby boomer" and older hunters and fewer replacement hunters coming into the fold from younger age groups. Wildlife management needs ongoing hunter participants, because Kentucky wildlife is supported by its user-pays system via license and permit sales and not general tax money.
More specifically for deer management, an ongoing strong base of hunters is required to provide the whitetail harvest needed to keep Kentucky's plentiful and dynamic deer population in check.
Youth hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, are obligated to have certification of completing a hunter education course to hunt in Kentucky. That covers those eligible for the youth deer season, but those younger than 12 are exempt. Hunter education, therefore, is required for youth deer hunters of ages 12-15.
For those who fooled around and didn't get the hunter education requirement taken care of in time, there is an option of a one-time, one-year hunter education exemption permit. This is sold only online at www.fw.ky.gov for $5.
Youth deer hunters 12-15 should have a youth hunting license and a youth deer permit. Hunters younger than 12 again are exempt from both license and deer permit requirements.
Other standard deer hunting regulations apply to the youth hunt. These include the requirement to wear solid, fluorescent orange-colored clothing on head, chest and back. In the case of the youth hunt, both the junior hunter and the adult overseer must wear this "blaze" orange attire.
• Today through Friday is Wolf Week at the LBL's Woodland Nature Station, making schools' fall break a stretch when students can soak up experiences focused on the wildlife center's resident endangered red wolves.
Special wolf-themed programs run 11 a.m.-4 p.m. over this weekend, then 1:30-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Programs are free with Nature Station admission: $5 for ages 13 and older, $3 for kids 5-12 and free for younger children.
For more information, including a program schedule, see the website www.landbetweenthelakes.us or phone 270-924-2299.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors editor. Email outdoors news items to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 270-575-8650.