CPW offering mentor hunts for women, young children | PostIndependent.com

CPW offering mentor hunts for women, young children

For roughly the 10th straight year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is looking to infuse novice hunters into the state’s hunting system, this time by targeting women and young children who might not have the chance to hunt.

Hunting in Colorado is an integral part of maintaining the upkeep in the ecosystem of the Rocky Mountains, according to CPW Mentor Outreach Coordinator Crystal Chick. Created during the early 2000s, the goal was to bring in new hunters to the sport, which in turn generates more revenue for the agency and ensures the cycle of the ecosystem continues to function properly.

The agency receives most of its money from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses each year, so making sure new hunters are introduced into the system, while teaching them how to properly hunt, was a big reason behind the implementation of the program.

As its success has picked up across the state and more hunters turn out every year, CPW is hoping to get more women and young children involved in the sport.

“The money we make off of the sales of licenses correlates directly with the maintenance of the wildlife — whether that’s the acquisition of habitat, research or improvement,” Chick said. “Seventy-five percent of the profit made from the sale of licenses goes right back into the wildlife. Also, hunting is our biggest tool for maintaining our wildlife and keeping the populations at a manageable level. That’s why it’s so key to not only attract new hunters and bring them into the system, but to make sure we keep our other hunters interested and active.”

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Across the state, CPW offers these mentored hunts where experienced hunters — largely on a volunteer basis — help the agency select applicants prior to acquiring permits to lead hunts of different animals, from pheasants all the way up to moose.

The biggest thing with the mentored hunts, according to CPW Northwest Region Public Information Officer Mike Porras, is to teach the novice hunters the proper way of hunting so that they’re not only safe and smart, but they’re not doing anything to potentially harm the environment.

“We feel it’s very important to teach these novice hunters how to properly do things on hunts, whether that’s tracking and field dressing an animal, to properly extinguishing a fire and cleaning up a campsite in the correct fashion,” Porras said. “By sending these novice hunters out on hunts with experienced hunters, we know that they’re getting the correct training firsthand.”

July 15 is the deadline to apply for the hunts, in which all equipment including guns, ammo, hunting gear, food and other essential needs will be provided by CPW.

Although CPW will accept applications from those who have experience hunting, Chick said that they’re looking more for those who grow up in families that don’t hunt or have never really had the chance to hunt. Fortunately for everyone that applies, there is no charge to apply. The only cost is the purchase of a hunting license, which runs about $10 in the state, along with a refundable deposit from those selected to make sure they show up for the hunt.

Once the selection process is completed, the volunteers who lead the hunts will then coordinate with landowners in every region of the state to plan out the hunts before then submitting their plans to CPW for approval. Most mentored hunts in the northwest region of the state start in mid-August, but it all largely depends on the type of hunt, according to Chick. The program runs through January, and this year one lucky youth applicant will get to go on a moose hunt, which is quite the experience for an veteran hunter, let alone one just starting out.

“The amount of selections in this process largely depends on the number of hunts we can book through landowners, as well as the number of permits we’re able to get through our state regulations program,” Chick said. “It really varies each year on how many applicants we select. Last year there was roughly 30-35 hunts that averaged roughly six kids per hunt for small game and big game across the state.”

Now, the agency is hoping to attract a larger number of young hunters, but also women as well. In the past the program has had more youth hunts available in comparison to women hunts, but it’s equally important to CPW to bring women into the sport of hunting to expand their reach and horizons in Colorado.

“We never have a problem finding enough hunters to fill the number of spots we have,” Chick said. “Where I try to really focus is to make sure we’re recruiting those novice hunters. Those are the people I’m really trying to focus on and give them an opportunity to learn firsthand with us. That’s the role we want to play for those kids and women.”

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