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Local hunters help military families during youth hunt

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Stories from the Heartland

By Amber Coulter

Kentucky’s designated weekend for youth hunting is a traditional time for parents, grandparents and other mentors to pass on everything they know about deer hunting.

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Children younger than 16 take hold of shotguns they borrow for the weekend or unwrapped as a Christmas or birthday surprise.

Some children couldn’t have that experience this past weekend during the annual youth hunt because their parents were toting other types of guns thousands of miles away in the military.

Hunters from the Hardin and Jefferson County areas teamed up for the first time this season to make sure that area children of active and former members of the military were able to take aim at deer and help control the population.

The Bourbon Trail chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, newly formed and based in Elizabethtown, teamed with the Derby City chapter to teach about 30 children about hunting and take them out for the experience.

Of those participants, about half were gazing across a soybean field near a landfill off Ash Lane.

Acting local chapter president Tony Lawson wanted to give the children the kind of experience he remembers from when his father taught him to hunt.

“It was a great time that I got to spend with my dad that was strictly one-one-one,” he said.

Lawson also was excited about getting to serve a group of children who were almost universally dependents of current and former military members.

He said the parents have served their country and have had to make sacrifices, including not being able to take their children hunting.

“It gives us a chance to serve them back,” he said.

The organization was able to provide the service, hunting licenses and deer tags for free thanks to donations.

Contributions can be made locally by contacting Lawson at (502) 710-1912.

The new young hunters got to keep any deer they bagged last weekend. Unclaimed deer were planned to go to Hunt for the Hungry. Dare to Care also was involved.

Passing on hunting skills is also an important practical matter because there still are places in the state and nation where hunted venison is a major staple on families’ dinner tables, Lawson said.

The hunting expedition was preceded by camping days of hunter education and learning about the science behind hunting, such as its value in animal population control and how to handle areas in which critters are heavily populated enough to become a nuisance.

The field in which the children hunted locally is one in which the farmer has had to thin the deer population to protect soybean crops.

The hunt took place near the property of the resident who had the idea.

Bo Cooper and his father never had been hunting before a few years ago.

The boy, now a junior at Central Hardin High School, wanted to try it so they trekked into the woods to try.

Bo came back empty-handed for a few seasons before bagging his first deer.

By then, the sport had enthralled him and he found and became involved with the Louisville chapter until he helped organize a local chapter this year that includes about 15 people.

Bo, chapter treasurer, had seen how much trouble the neighboring farmer was having with deer and thought the location would be a good opportunity for a youth hunt.

The Louisville chapter, which put up a lot of the money to organize the camp and hunts, suggested Bo’s idea support military families.

Bo, the son of an U.S. Army veteran, liked the idea.

“It’s a great thing to be doing,” he said.

Bo’s brother, Jackson, and Trevor Knox, a neighbor and the grandson of a Vietnam War Purple Heart recipient, were inspired by Bo to take up hunting.

The Central Hardin High School freshmen were excited about being able to hunt the myriad of deer they often see from their yards.

Jackson was glad that children from military families got to visit the land near his home to experience nature, see agriculture first-hand and take some shots at local deer.

“It’s something that kids can remember,” he said. “It’s something they might not get to do often.”

Stories From the Heartland appears each Monday in The News-Enterprise. Amber Coulter can be
reached at (270) 505-1746 or  acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com