| Increasing the number of new hunters in the field is important to continuing the American hunting tradition. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservationengages in activities to create new hunters, and supports the efforts of conservation partners also working to support America’s hunting heritage. |
One such partner is the Oklahoma Youth Hunting Program (OYHP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to pass on Oklahoma’s hunting heritage, along with the character traits of independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence that heritage instills, to youths ages 12 to 17.
OYHP provides qualifying youths pre-hunt training and during-the-hunt guidance.
“In order to have the best experience for our youths, we need experienced and enthusiastic volunteers that love hunting and the outdoors,” said OYHP Coordinator Darrell Noblitt. “There are a number of needs at each hunt location. We are looking for shooting instructors, cooks, guides, photographers, and experienced outdoorsmen and women that can assist during the hunts.”
This year, OYHP plans to enroll about 60 youths who have never hunted and who do not come from a hunting family. The youths and an accompanying adult parent or guardian will be assigned to a volunteer hunting guide and go afield during Oklahoma’s youth deer hunting season Oct. 14-16.
Volunteers serve as instructors, or mentors, for these youths who want to experience what hunting and related experiences can offer. OYHP is only limited by the number of trained volunteer staff it can field. “We’ll have 250-plus volunteers in the woods on youth hunting weekend, but we could expand well beyond the 60 kids we will take this year just by training new mentors,” Noblitt said.
OYHP provides almost everything needed for everyone participating, including food, lodging, hunting sites, guns and ammunition. Volunteers provide their time and expertise to introduce someone new to hunting.
Noblitt urges anyone interested in volunteering to attend the first group meetingfrom 2 to 7 p.m. Aug. 13 in Mustang. “Come and see if there’s a place to fit and be involved,” he said. “Tell us your passion, then we will find a place for you, whether it’s butchering, photography, cooking, storytelling, or just a passion to spend time with new hunters. We are very careful that we meet the desire of the mentor. We will teach you after you figure out what you want to do.”
For location information in Mustang, email email@example.com or call (405) 833-2112.
To apply as a volunteer, go to https://oyhp.org and submit an online application. Volunteers must pass a background check and then attend a volunteer training course.
Youth hunters may also apply on the OYHP website and will be notified in August if they have qualified to attend.