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Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
September 2003

Alaska's Take a Young Person Hunting Week

By Riley Woodford
caption follows
Travis Smith was successful in bagging a nice male black bear with his father, Roy Smith, and a freind, Paul Bell.

In recognition of Alaska's hunting heritage and the role of hunting in the state, Gov. Frank Murkowski has proclaimed Sept. 7 through 13 "Take a Young Person Hunting Week."

The governor's executive proclamation, issued Aug. 20, encourages experienced hunters to mentor young Alaskans in safe and ethical hunting practices and to instill in youth an understanding of conservation of wildlife resources.

The proclamation grew from the efforts of Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna. In 1998, Lewis suggested the proclamation to his legislator as a way to remind older, more experienced hunters of their obligation to promote ethical standards, he said.

In 1999 the state senate and house issued a joint proclamation declaring the second week in September Take a Young Person Hunting Week. It has been recognized every year since.

"This is a tool to promote hunter education, mentor young hunters, promote hunting safety and interest young people in wildlife and our hunting heritage," Lewis said.

Lewis knows first hand the value of mentoring. "My dad died before I was born and our next-door neighbor took me under his wing," he said. "He taught me how to reload shotgun shells and took me small game hunting, and it definitely had a positive impact on me."

Lewis practices what he preaches and volunteers as a naturalist and wildlife educator in Soldotna area schools. He's taught 14 hunter education classes this year.

"It's kind of a passion with me, " he said. "But a lot of the area (Fish and Game) staff volunteers. This is an important part of a lot of Alaskans' lifestyle and it's part of our heritage."

Mid-September is a good time for Take a Young Person Hunting Week, he said. "It's the height of moose hunting, and there's caribou, small game and deer -everything is going on in the middle of September," he said.


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