Montana has a special day set aside for youngsters 12 through 15 to hunt waterfowl.
This year, the "Special Statewide Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day," approved by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission, is set for Saturday, September 25. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows youngsters to hunt ducks, geese and coots on one additional day outside the regular waterfowl hunting season seasons. The idea behind the youth waterfowl hunting day is to provide a special hunting opportunity to encourage youth participation in waterfowling.
Legally licensed hunters age 12 through 15 may hunt ducks, coots and geese on September 25 but must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. The accompanying adult cannot hunt waterfowl on this day, but may (and is encouraged to!) assist with decoys, calling, and retrieving. This also provides an excellent opportunity to take a retriever out to do some work before the regular season. The bag limits, shooting hours, and all other regulations that apply to the regular waterfowl seasons will apply on this special day.
"One nice thing about having a special youth waterfowl hunting day is that it gives the young hunter a chance to be the focus of attention," said Jim Hansen, FWP's Central Flyway coordinator in Billings. "Not only will there be little if any competition, but, and perhaps more importantly, the adults won't be caught up in the excitement of shooting birds and forget about the experience of the young person he or she is accompanying."
Hansen said he expects a good number of ducks and geese to be available for the young hunters, especially on the many stock ponds, which are often overlooked. All who plan to go out should be sure to do some scouting for birds, and they must get permission on private land. Scouting before the hunt is also important to check on water conditions. Some parts of Montana are very dry, and an area that provided good hunting a year or two ago may have little or no water this year.
Hanson hopes adult waterfowl hunters take advantage of this opportunity by taking a youngster out to hunt waterfowl on a day provided especially for them. Keeping the next generation interested is vital to the future of waterfowl and waterfowl conservation, Hansen said.