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YOUTH APPLICATION STRATEGY — Take Your Kids Hunting Part 2

Youth Application Strategy - Part 2

Trail Kreitzer's eldest son, Landon Kreitzer, with his cow elk he shot in Utah last year. Photo credit: Trail Kreitzer

Jump to: ARIZONA UTAH NEVADA WYOMING 

This is the second article in our Youth Application strategy series. Also, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 3 if you haven't already:

INSIDER YOUTH DRAW ODDS

Your INSIDER account offers draw odds specifically for youth in states where those opportunities exist. To explore those odds, log into your INSIDER account, hover over the INSIDER icon in the header bar. When the pop-up box appears, select “draw odds.” Next, select the state you are researching and when the option for types of residency show, select the “youth” option. Finally, select the species you are interested in researching.


ARIZONA

Age and hunter’s education

No one under the age of 14 can hunt in Arizona without completing a hunter education course. Hunters must be at least 10 years old to hunt big game in Arizona. Although youth must be 10 and have a hunter’s education card to hunt, they do not need the card to apply for the draw. You can start applying in Arizona for your kids when they are nine years old as long as they will have completed hunter’s education and turn 10 years old before the start date of their hunt. 

Arizona has a unique opportunity for hunter’s education. If hunters travel to Arizona and complete their course in person, they will be given a permanent bonus point. If you have the opportunity and your youth needs to complete hunter’s education, Arizona is a great state to do that and then your child gains that permanent bonus point for Arizona.

Permit transfer

Arizona has a great permit transfer opportunity for youth; a parent, grandparent or guardian can transfer their big game license to a youth (10 to 17).

Arizona allows a youth (10 to 17) to use the parent’s, grandparent’s or guardian’s big game permit to take big game provided the permit is legally transferred to them, the youth is accompanied by the parent, grandparent or guardian, the youth possesses a valid hunting license and, if under 14, has completed a hunter’s education course.

Weapon information

There are a few weapon restrictions that may be applicable for youth hunters. Archery hunters must pull a minimum of 30 lb draw weight. Muzzleloaders can be modern setups; any projectile, ignition fitting and any power magnified scopes can be used.

Arizona youth application, license and permit costs (10 to 17 years old)

Item Resident Nonresident
Youth combination license (hunt/fish) $5.00 $5.00
Youth application/bonus point fee $13.00 (per species) $15.00 (per species)
Javelina youth only tag $28.00 $30.00
Elk youth only tag (antlerless) $63.00 $65.00
Deer youth only tag $38.00 $40.00
*Note: All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.

What makes Arizona a great state for youth hunting? 

Price

Arizona is one of the cheapest states in the West to apply in for youth. The hunting license must be purchased before you can apply, but, for youth, the cost is only $5.00. That cost is the same for both residents and nonresidents. Applicants do not have to front the cost of the permits they apply for and will only be charged if they are successful in the draw. Anyone interested in taking their kids hunting should be applying for permits and building bonus points in Arizona. The permit costs are relatively inexpensive if you apply for the youth hunts, which (as indicated above) are for antlerless elk and javelina as well as muzzleloader and rifle deer. The cost of the other permits (bull elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, some of the other mule deer and Coues deer hunts) are pricey. Those can range from around $300 up to $1,815 for bighorn sheep. We will discuss strategy below, but Arizona is cheap to apply and, with the random chance of drawing, everyone should be applying and building points in Arizona. 

Opportunity

Arizona has one of the more complex draw systems; however, to briefly summarize: Arizona utilizes a bonus point system in their draw. Up to 5% of the tags can be allocated to the nonresident(s) with the most points that apply for any given hunt and another 5% can be randomly allocated to nonresidents. The number of bonus points you have is essentially the number of chances you have in the draw.

The opportunity to hunt bull elk in Arizona is decent, but, generally, the odds of drawing are not great for nonresidents. If your intent is to apply and build points for a branch-antlered bull elk permit, then it’s best to avoid the youth only antlerless elk hunts. There are better states to pick up an antlerless elk permit that will not impact bonus points in states like Wyoming or Utah. We always suggest that applicants apply for permits in Arizona rather than buying points only. Always include a first and second choice on your application. With the random pass portion of the draw, you never know when you might draw a great permit. You’ll gain a point if you are unsuccessful, so you might as well apply as long as you can afford the permit.

Trophy deer hunts in Arizona are truly tough to come by even if you begin building points for your kids right now so you might consider some of the youth only deer hunts; however, keep in mind that those are opportunity types of hunts. They do offer better odds than most of the general draws. Do some research into the draw odds for the youth only deer, general draw deer hunts, and consider your objectives for your kids before making a decision.

Another consideration: youth hunters may wish to apply for a javelina hunt that will complement another deer hunt in which they may participate in this fall. Youth only deer hunters in selected units (see youth-only deer hunts in the rules and regs) will also be able to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) companion javelina tags, allowing these hunters to a chance to hunt for deer and javelina at the same time. These hunts are excellent ways to introduce youth to big game hunting.

Be sure to apply your youth for any and all species that they are interested in hunting, including bighorn sheep, antelope and bison—if you can afford the permit should they draw a random tag. The cost of those tags is the same for youth and adults!


UTAH

Age and hunter’s education

All youth hunters must have completed a hunter’s education course to apply or purchase permits in Utah. Utah does have a trial hunting program that will allow anyone over the age of 12 to try hunting while accompanied by a licensed hunter who is over 21. You can find more information regarding that program within the forthcoming 2021 regulations.

An applicant 12 years of age or older may apply for or obtain a permit to hunt big game in Utah. 

Youth 11 years of age may apply for a permit to hunt big game, provided that their 12th birthday falls within the calendar year for which the permit is issued and that person does not use the permit to hunt big game before their 12th birthday. Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a legal guardian or qualified adult over 21.

For the purpose of big game hunting, youth must be 17 years or younger by July 31.

Permit transfer

Utah has a relatively new hunter mentoring program for resident youth (17 and under). Any qualified adult over 21 (not just parents and grandparents) can mentor a resident youth as long as the youth’s parent or legal guardian has given written permission. Essentially, the program allows the mentor to share a hunting permit that they have drawn or purchased. A mentor can even share their permit with up to four youth, but only one youth can hunt at a time. For example, if I drew a general season deer tag, I could share it with both of my nephews; however, only one could hunt at a time. As soon as someone, either myself or one of my nephews harvests a buck, the hunt is over. Almost any permit can be mentored to a youth. Mentors and youth must enroll in the program prior to the hunt starting. Youth can hunt on one mentored permit per year, but they can also draw and hunt on their own permit in the same year.

Weapon information

Bows must have a minimum of 30 lb draw weight. Utah allows for modern in-line muzzleloader setups, including magnified scopes of any power and the use of sabots.

Utah youth application, license and permit costs (12 to 17 years old)

Item Resident Nonresident
Youth hunting license (13 and under) $11.00 $25.00
Youth hunting license (14 to 17) $16.00 $25.00
Youth combo hunting/fishing $20.00 $29.00
Youth application fee (per species) $10.00 $10.00
Youth any bull elk $50.00 $393.00
*Note: All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.

What makes Utah a great state for youth hunting? 

Price

As you can see in the table above, youth can purchase a hunting license and apply for species for a relatively low cost. Hunters do not have to front the cost of the permits they apply for and will only be charged if they are successful in the draw. As stated, nonresidents can apply for all species that they are interested in, including: dedicated hunter deer, general season deer, limited entry deer, limited entry elk, limited entry antelope, youth any bull elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison. With application fees and the hunting license to apply, the total cost for all options would only be $125.00 For a resident youth, that cost would be $61 to $66 (hunting license and app fees for dedicated hunter deer, general deer, one once-in-a-lifetime species, one limited entry species and youth any bull elk) depending on age. You may not want to apply for all hunts. Perhaps, you are not interested in the dedicated hunter deer permit or the youth any bull. Regardless, Utah is a great state for youth and is fairly economical to apply in.

Opportunity

Utah offers good opportunities for youth to hunt big game. Except for OTC spike elk and any bull elk hunts, all permits are allocated through a state draw. Utah has a bonus point system for allocating limited entry deer, elk, antelope and once-in-a-lifetime species like moose, bighorn sheep and bison. Half of the permits for any one of those hunts is given to the applicants with the most points while the other half is randomly allocated in the draw. The more bonus points you have, the better your statistical odds of drawing. 

General season deer, dedicated hunter deer and antlerless elk, deer and antelope all work on a preference point system. For those hunts, the applicants with the most points for any given hunt will get the permits. There is a percentage of permits that are allocated to youth; more on that in the sections below. The dedicated hunter program might be worth considering for resident youth or youth who can afford to travel. Essentially, the hunter is allowed to hunt all hunts (archery, muzzleloader, rifle) and can harvest two bucks in a three-year timeframe. In exchange, the hunter must complete 32 hours on Utah Division of Wildlife Resources approved service projects. You can also pay for those hours at a cost of $20 per hour.

The spike only elk hunts are not high success (hovering typically around the 20% range); however, they are great for getting kids into the field. The OTC spike hunts occur on limited entry elk units. It’s really neat to get your kids out hunting spike elk on some of the West’s premium elk units. Those permits go on sale typically in July and are capped at 15,000. They are increasingly more popular; be prepared to purchase on the date and time they go on sale. 

Another great youth opportunity is the general season deer hunts. 20% of Utah’s general season buck deer permits are allocated to youth in the draw. If youth draw a rifle deer permit, they may hunt the archery hunt, muzzleloader hunt, and then the rifle hunt or until they have filled their tag. Youth who do not draw a deer tag can usually purchase an archery deer tag OTC. Typically, the wildlife board approves those additional permits for youth and they can be purchased mid-July. 

In addition, 20% of Utah antlerless deer, elk and antelope tags are reserved for youth hunters. That application timeframe is typically in early June. Explore the odds for those hunts within the standalone draw odds section of your INSIDER account. Cow elk hunting is a great youth hunt and Utah has plenty of public land and elk to hunt. 

Utah also offers a draw for youth any bull elk permits. Those tags are valid for all of the “any bull units” during the prime rut dates, normally between Sept. 15 and 23. This shouldn’t be confused with the “any bull” units that are not the same as the limited entry units that Utah is known for. These units have lower elk numbers or tougher access, but the dates are very good. Youth applicants can apply for both the youth any bull and the limited entry bull elk permits. For resident youth with the opportunity to scout or who has private land access, this can be a decent hunt on some of the any bull units. For nonresidents, there may be better opportunities in other states like Colorado, Idaho or Montana where the general type permits offer you access to areas with larger elk populations. For DIY hunters, the Unitas areas in northeastern Utah have the largest elk populations of any of the any bulls units.

Utah is a great state to take your kids hunting because there is a lot of opportunity and a ton of public land. You will need to plan ahead to either apply or purchase OTC permits. The cost is relatively inexpensive. We suggest that resident youth apply for a limited entry species, a once-in-a-lifetime species and general season deer. They should also apply in early June for antlerless elk, deer and antelope if they are interested. Nonresident youth should apply for any and all species they are interested in, provided you can afford the cost of the permit. Some of the once-in-a-lifetime species permits are expensive should they draw! 


NEVADA

Age and hunter’s education

Youth must be 12 years old to hunt big game in Nevada. Youth can apply if they are 11 years old, but they must turn 12 prior to the opening day of the season(s) they are applying for. Hunter education is required for anyone to hunt big game in Nevada. Before you apply for the first time in Nevada you must email a copy of your hunter’s education certificate or apply via paper and include a copy of your certificate there. Be aware, you must take care of that step at least seven days prior to the application deadline so do not delay when processing your youth applications. Youth aged 14 and older, who have a valid license and have parental permission, may hunt unaccompanied with a rifle.

Permit transfer

An adult cannot transfer a hunting permit to a youth hunter in Nevada.

Weapon information

Bows must have a 40 lb minimum draw weight and a maximum of 80% let off. Muzzleloaders must use open or peep sights and smokeless powder is not legal. Sabots are legal. Rifle hunters may hunt big game with a centerfire cartridge of .22 caliber or larger.

Nevada youth application, license and permit costs (11 to 17 years old)

Item Resident Nonresident
Youth combination license $15.00 $15.00
Application fee (elk) $19.00 $19.00
Application fee (all other species) $14.00 $14.00
Bonus point only fee $11.00 $11.00
*Note: Application fees include $10 app fee, $3 predator management fee, $1 processing fee.
**Note: All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.

What makes Nevada a great state for youth hunting? 

Price

Nevada requires every applicant to purchase a combination license, which, for youth (11 to 17), is only $15 for both residents and nonresidents. This is extremely cheap compared to the $155 license an adult must purchase to apply. Applicants can apply for deer, antelope, desert bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep and elk. For around $90, youth can apply for and build bonus points for all of those species. Nevada offers a bonus point random draw system. This means that applicants always have a chance in the draw, but the more bonus points the applicant has, the better your odds are of drawing. You will be awarded a bonus point if you are unsuccessful in the draw, so it makes sense to apply for hunts instead of points only. You never know; your kid(s) could draw a great tag on their first year of applying.

Opportunity

Nevada sets aside approximately 3,000 deer permits that are available to resident youth. Successful resident youth applicants for those permits can hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunt until they harvest a deer.Those junior mule deer tags are valid for either sex as well. See the “junior mule deer hunts” table within the seasons and regulations brochure. There are no youth specific hunts for other species or for nonresidents. 

For residents and nonresidents alike, use the Draw Odds and other filters within your INSIDER account and apply accordingly. Do not apply for points only unless you cannot afford the time or permit. Apply your youth for any species they are interested in and make sure you include all five hunt choices; stagger those from best hunt (worst odds) to decent hunt (best odds) as your choices. Also, be sure to get your youth’s hunter’s education verified and their account set up with the Nevada Department of Wildlife well in advance of the deadline.

Nevada may not offer the vast opportunities to youth that some other states do, but it's relatively inexpensive for your kids to apply your. The cost of the annual hunting license is only $15. Anyone who draws a permit in Nevada is typically in for a good hunt. Nevada may not boast the robust populations of elk, deer and antelope that some other states do, but what it lacks in population it makes up for in quality.


WYOMING

Age and hunter’s education

Youth can apply if they are 11, but will turn 12 prior to the start of their hunt date for all species except bison. Youth may apply for points also during the July 1 to Oct. 31 point only timeframe if they will be 12 prior to Dec. 31 of that year. For bison, hunters must be 14 prior to Sept. 15 to hunt. All applicants must have completed a hunter’s education course to apply and hunt big game in Wyoming.

Wyoming also has a hunter mentoring program similar to other states where a new hunter can try hunting without having completed a hunter’s education course. The youth must be accompanied by a mentor who is 18 or older and who has completed hunter’s education and has a valid hunting license. See the Wyoming Game and Fish Department hunter mentor program website for more information.

Permit transfer

An adult cannot transfer a hunting permit to a youth hunter in Wyoming.

Weapon information

A 50 lb draw weight for bows is required to hunt elk, moose and bison. The minimum draw weight to hunt antelope, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goat is 40 lb. Crossbows are legal to hunt within Wyoming as long as they have a minimum 90 lb draw weight. A .22 caliber rifle is legal to harvest deer and antelope. Scopes, sabots and pelletized powder are all legal for muzzleloader hunting.

Wyoming youth application, license and permit costs (11 to 17 years old)

Item Resident Nonresident
Youth application fee (per species) $5.00 $15.00
Youth antelope buck regular draw $15.00 $110.00
Youth antelope doe/fawn $14.00 $19.00
Youth deer buck regular draw $15.00 $110.00
Youth deer doe/fawn regular draw $14.00 $19.00
Youth elk bull regular draw $25.00 $275.00
Youth elk cow/calf regular draw $20.00 $100.00
Preference point fee (elk, deer, antelope) NA $10.00
*Note: Many of the other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.
**Note: If youth apply in the special draw for antelope, deer and/or elk, youth will pay the special license fee and not the youth discounted costs above.

What makes Wyoming a great state for youth hunting? 

Price

Applicants do not have to buy a hunting license to apply in Wyoming like they do in other states, but they do have to front the cost of the licenses they apply for. For residents, that is not such a big deal considering a resident youth bull elk license is only $25 and the application fee is $5. For nonresidents, fronting the costs of the licenses can be a tough pill to swallow. If a nonresident youth applied in the regular draw for buck antelope, buck deer and bull elk, the cost you would have to front would be approximately $540. If unsuccessful in the draw, you would receive all of that back except for $45. If youth apply for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison, those licenses are the same cost for adults and youth and are very expensive.

Youth should absolutely apply in Wyoming, but you will need to make sure you have the credit card room to cover those applications. 

It’s worth noting that in Wyoming applicants who are unsuccessful in the draw do not automatically receive preference points for deer, elk and antelope. You will need to go back during the summer point only purchase time frame and buy those. Those points are only $10 per species. The point fee for moose and bighorn sheep is $150. There is no point system for bison and mountain goat.

Wyoming offers exceptional value for the cost, especially for youth. Everyone should be applying and buying preference points for deer, elk and antelope in Wyoming!

Opportunity

Residents can apply for all species they are interested in. Elk, deer, antelope, bison and mountain goat are random draws for residents with no point systems. The moose and bighorn sheep draw does utilize a preference point system even for residents. Wyoming allocates a portion of those permits randomly and everyone is on an equal playing field for those licenses. May sure you apply your resident youth for those species as well; you never know when they may get lucky and draw a license. Resident youth can also simply buy a general season elk and a general season deer license OTC and can hunt any of those general units/seasons. Those general season elk and deer hunts are likely the best value in the West. 

Nonresidents have a couple of options when they apply. They can apply in the regular draw or the special draw for full priced elk, deer and antelope. If you apply in the special draw, youth will pay the full special license cost for those licenses. If youth apply in the regular draw, they will only pay the youth prices listed in the table above. The advantage of the special draw is that there are fewer applicants willing to pay the higher price and odds are often better for drawing. The downfall is obviously the cost. The advantage of the regular draw is that those youth licenses are much cheaper, but the odds of drawing are tougher. 

Nonresident full price deer, antelope and elk licenses are allocated on a preference point system. A bulk of the licenses are given to the applicants with the most points who apply for any given hunt and the remaining licenses are randomly drawn. Everyone has an equal chance at the random licenses; points are not taken into consideration for those. That means that even if your kids have no points, they typically have a chance to draw. We would advise that all interested youth apply to hunt for elk, deer and antelope. By utilizing your INSIDER draw odds and Filtering 2.0 tools, you will see that there are many hunts that your youth can draw with very few points. Antelope and mule deer are great hunts for youth and Wyoming has more antelope than most every other state in the West combined. Plan on buying preference points for those species during the summer months.

For moose and bighorn sheep, the point creep is at a point where simply buying points is not going to move the needle — even for youth. If you can afford and want to apply your youth for those species, pick hunts that have at least one random permit available and hope they get super lucky. Once again, be aware that you will have to front the entire cost of those and are required to pay that $150 point fee if you do not draw. Bison and mountain goat draws do not have a point system; it’s a random draw for those. Again, the cost of fronting those is extremely expensive. Apply only if you can afford it for those species.

One of the best opportunities in Wyoming for kids is probably in the reduced price doe/fawn deer, antelope and cow/calf elk. Those reduced price licenses are available in a separate draw and are randomly allocated. When you apply online, you’ll see two links to apply, “full price” and “reduced price.” You can apply for both and your preference points will not be impacted if you draw a reduced price license. Look at the odds for female species in Wyoming; there are some really good opportunities to get your youth in the field.

Overall, Wyoming offers something for everyone and is a must apply state. Determine the type of hunt you are looking for, experience and opportunity or, perhaps, a future trophy hunt and apply/build points accordingly. You should consider that Wyoming's deer, elk and antelope point system is 15 years deep and there are many applicants ahead of new applicants. The best hunts in the state are most likely out of reach for youth; however, there are good options if you dig into the research. Consider your objectives and odds and make sure you apply your youth in Wyoming!

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