Any time it is legal is a good time to take a youngster duck hunting. But never before has Montana had a special day set aside for that purpose. That will change in 1997.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing one additional day outside of the regular duck season to provide a special hunting opportunity to encourage youth participation in waterfowling. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission recently adopted a regulation establishing Saturday, September 27, as a "Special Statewide Youth Duck Hunting Day." The regular duck season opens on October 4 statewide.
Legally licensed hunters ages 12 through 15 may hunt ducks, coots and mergansers on the special day, but must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age, who cannot hunt on this day. The bag limits, shooting hours, and all other regulations that apply to the regular duck season apply to this special hunt. While the accompanying adult may not shoot ducks, he or she can assist with setting decoys, calling and retrieving.
"One nice thing about this special day is that the youth hunter is the focus of attention," said Jeff Herbert, statewide waterfowl coordinator for FWP in Helena. "There will be less competition and, perhaps more importantly, we adults won't get caught up in the excitement of shooting ducks ourselves, while sometimes forgetting about whether the young person with us is having a good time."
"With the Youth Day offered early in the fall," Herbert continued, "it is likely we'll have some pleasant weather to make for an enjoyable day. There should also be a good number of ducks available."
Herbert encouraged all hunters to take advantage of this opportunity by taking a youngster, be it their own or perhaps a neighbor who has no one to take him or her, out hunting. "Keeping the next generation interested is vital to the future of waterfowl and waterfowl conservation," he explained.