Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Washington Outdoors Report - week of July 24

A mentored deer hunt for kids


A unique opportunity is available for kids between 12 and 16 years of age who have never hunted for big game before but who want to go on their first deer hunt. It’s the 2nd annual Chris Christensen Memorial Youth Deer Camp, taking place August 26 through the 28 at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area near Kettle Falls in Northeast Washington. 

The deer camp and hunt are being offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with the First Hunt Foundation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Kalispell Tribe, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Vaagen Brothers Lumber.

The event is aimed towards boys and girls who have never been exposed to deer hunting and don’t have a family member who can teach them about the sport. Camp actually starts the evening of August 25 when participants and their family members set up camp. The following morning at 6 a.m. deer hunting mentors will teach the kids (and their parents) the basics about deer hunting in a series of seminars covering safety, field craft, ethics, how to ask landowners for permission to hunt on their property, recommended hunting gear, hunting tactics, tracking animals, how to properly tag a harvested animal and how to cook it as a delicious meal. 

This is also a very hands-on event. Each teenager will learn the fundamentals of marksmanship and sight in a rifle. And if you don’t have a rifle or ammunition don’t worry, they will be provided for each teen. After learning the basics and spending some time at the range the hunt begins.

On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, mentors who are experienced hunters will take each kid out on a doe deer hunt. Once the kid tags out on a doe, the animal will be tested for chronic wasting disease and the mentor will teach the new hunter how to butcher the animal. If the kid doesn’t have success on Friday or Saturday, they get to go out again on Sunday for another chance at a doe.

The event is named after Chris Christensen. Rick Brazell, the President of the First Hunt Foundation, said, “Chris was a manager at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area and a mentor with the First Hunt Foundation who just spent tons of his life helping kids and youth learn about the outdoors and about hunting.”

Christensen served 20 years in the Army and in Vietnam in the Special Forces. After that he worked for 35 years with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He passed away from cancer in May of 2021 and the deer camp was named in his honor that year.

There is no cost to attend this event for the twelve kids who are selected to go. Food is also free, to include a salmon dinner provided by the Kalispel Tribe. As for accommodations, you can pitch a tent or bring a camper or RV to the state wildlife area.  The first twelve kids between 12 and 16 to apply who meet the following criteria will get to go. The criteria to attend is:

1. Age 12 – 16 (must qualify for a youth deer tag)

2. Completed Hunter Education prior to the camp

3. Purchased a hunting license

4. Cannot have successfully hunted any big game (deer, elk, moose, bear, cougar) prior to the camp

5. Does not have any close family that regularly hunts big game

If you have a teen who wants to participate in this mentored youth deer hunt and deer camp the lengthy link to register at is

This is a wonderful chance to expose a kid to the world of big game hunting and set him or her up with the basic skills needed to do it on their own in the future. It’s also a chance for parents and guardians to learn about this sport. Finally, it’s a fantastic way to keep our hunting heritage alive and pass down this sport to a new generation of hunters.


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