As the new Hunting Season approaches, I would like to call your attention to the Texas Youth Hunting Program (www.tyhp.org)
– we arrange introductory, mentored hunt opportunities for kids ages 9-17 that are safe, educational, and affordable. Our mission is to increase the number of youth participating in hunting and wildlife activities, and our goal is to provide an opportunity for any youth in Texas who wants to go hunting!
A little background…..The Texas Youth Hunting Program began in 1996. TYHP is a program of the Texas Wildlife Association (www.texas-wildlife.org
), and is conducted in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Since inception, over 60,000 youth, parents, and volunteers have participated in TYHP. It is my great pleasure to work for TWA on the staff of this program!
Here are details about TYHP (I know it's a long read but I've tried to address FAQs)......
TYHP hunts are typically on private ranches whose owners donate access, although we are doing an increasing number of hunts on state- and federally-owned wildlife management areas or refuges. TYHP hunts are run by volunteer “Huntmasters” who have completed a training course administered by TYHP. The volunteer crew will also typically include a cook and guides that accompany the youth hunters. We do hunts for all types of game birds and animals as well as exotics and varmints; the landowner gets to specify the ground rules for what game is taken (in accordance with applicable seasons and regulations.)
TYHP hunts typically are scheduled to run from a Friday evening thru noon or so on Sunday. The youth/adult provide their own transportation. There will be a minimum of four hunters on a TYHP hunt, and often more. TYHP provides liability insurance for participating landowners, and we provide all equipment and resources to conduct a hunt. The landowner can be as involved as he wants to be; often they like to be present during the hunt weekend, but we can run the hunt from A to Z without the landowner’s presence if needed.
Hunter Education certification is required for a youth to go on a TYHP hunt, and TYHP has an excellent safety record. When the kids are not hunting or tending to game they have harvested, they are engaged in other learning opportunities such as skills trails, target shooting, wildlife and conservation programs that game wardens or biologists often conduct at hunt locations, or sometimes even fishing. We keep them busy – there are always new things to learn in the outdoors!
A parent or guardian must accompany each youth on a TYHP hunt. The adult participates in all elements of the weekend, fostering quality time with the youth. There is a fee of $150 for the hunt weekend – this covers both the adult and the youth. Cost and equipment are not barriers to participating in a TYHP hunt, and no experience is required. Scholarships are available to those who cannot afford the fee, and loaner equipment (firearms, bows, and some camping gear) is available if needed.
Lodging arrangements vary according to what is available on a given property – some ranches have cabins or bunkhouses they allow the kids to use, others have barns in which everyone sets up cots. And many places have no facilities and the participants all camp in tents. All food is provided by TYHP.
Hunts are typically structured such that a volunteer guide accompanies the youth and their adult while hunting. The guide helps with hunt strategy, monitors safety, and ensures that any shots taken at game are judged to be safe, legal, and ethical for the given situation – the guide and the hunter must be in agreement before a shot is fired. In short, the guide is a mentor to help the youth and their adult learn. If an animal is harvested, the youth will learn how to field dress it and prepare it to be transported home (skin, quarter, pluck, etc.). TYHP prides itself on stewardship during the hunt. Respect for the animal resources and the property is paramount. Hunters and their accompanying adult write thank you letters to the landowner during closing activities on the last day, and help with chores and clean up are required of all participants throughout the hunt.To apply for hunts
, a youth must create an account on the TYHP website (www.tyhp.org
). Then they may begin to apply for hunts that are posted on the “Hunt Schedule” section of the website (http://www.tyhp.org/youth-hunters/youth-hunt-schedule/
). Kids may apply for more than one hunt to increase their chances. Selection priority is given to kids that have not participated in a TYHP hunt.
Youth can apply for hunts even if they have not yet completed Hunter Ed; however, they will have to complete it before going on a hunt. Also, note that the $150 fee is only due upon selection for a hunt; there is no cost to apply.
In the 2015-2016 hunting season, we conducted 190 hunts on which approximately 2200 kids and adults participated. We plan to offer even more opportunity this coming year. As I write this we have 35 hunts and 2 fishing/Hunter Ed events already on the calendar, with more being added all the time!If you know a youth in our age group (9-17) that would like to go on a hunt, visit the TYHP website (www.tyhp.org) and check out our opportunities.
The bulk of this post has been about kids......If you are an adult that would like to volunteer with TYHP
, please contact me and I can help you get started. We are always looking for more folks to volunteer as Huntmasters, Guides, and Cooks. This is a very rewarding program to volunteer with – it’s a great pleasure to help kids start down the road of outdoor adventure as a hunter! Our volunteers are some of the best folks anywhere!Additionally, we are always seeking new places to hunt
. If you are a landowner or know one who may be interested in offering a youth hunt, please contact me and I can help get the ball rolling. A host property just needs to be large enough for at least 4 youth to hunt safely, and is not required to have facilities or improvements. And if a property does have facilities, it is totally at the landowner’s discretion as to whether they are used by TYHP. Landowners are involved in hunt planning, and decide the hunt dates as well as the types and quantities of game that may be hunted. Many of our landowners use TYHP hunts to help achieve deer harvest objectives, such as those required in the MLDP program. We provide Liability Insurance to landowners at no cost to them.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly or call our office in San Antonio (800-460-5494).
TYHP North Texas Field Operations Coordinator