Pirch-Caden Bowman

Caden Bowman with his harvest.

The week-long youth deer hunt recently came to a close in the Arizona high country.

Many young hunters drawn in the early summer lottery by the Arizona Game and Fish Department were in the field in the local units of 22 and 23. The youth deer and elk hunts are for the 10- to 18-year-olds in designated hunting areas with few young hunters in the field.

Arizona requires all youths between the ages of 10-13 that have drawn a special permit to have also passed the national firearms safety class before going into the woods. I would highly recommend all big game hunters to take and pass the course.

I took it twice while accompanying both of my sons when they were very young hunters when they wanted to pursue big game.

Many states require the course before securing an out-of-state permit for big game such as deer, elk, antelope, sheep, and moose. It is never too late to enroll in a course online or in a local class.

When a youngster draws a permit, it is more than likely other members of the family will join dad and mom in the hunting camp.

That is the case for the Bowman family when Kaden 16, Hunter 15, and Preston 14, all drew their first deer permits for unit 23, east of Tonto Creek. Their father Brian, owner of Payson Tire, invited his brother, Barry and their father, Ron to join in the three-generation family camp-out.

There is a definite excitement with the camp-out and the plans to hunt on opening day. Sleep does not come easy with the thrill of a first deer hunt and seeing that legal buck in the crosshairs.

The plan was to wake up well before light and hike more than a mile to a strategic high point where binoculars and spotting scopes are essential. The pursuit happens after the buck has been spotted with the plan of closing the distance for the perfect shot.

Preseason scouting is essential, and the family had spent the previous weekend exploring some canyons in the unit and located some nice bucks.

When the three-day weekend had ended, all three young hunters were able to harvest their first whitetail buck and had plenty of exercise in the long pack out. The stories of that first deer hunt no doubt will be told for years to come around the campfire or other family gatherings.

Preston and Hunter Bowman are in middle school where they are active in athletics playing football, wrestling, and baseball in the spring. They are already planning next year’s hunt, if they are fortunate enough to draw another youth deer permit.

This weekend plan an outdoor family activity where everyone can enjoy the Arizona high country, God’s creation.

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