If Ray Howell had a hunting mentor when he was growing up, maybe that wouldn’t have been such a tumultuous time in his life.
But if that were the case, maybe we wouldn’t have Kicking Bear Camps, either : The outdoors-oriented youth camps, heavy on hunting, were ultimately a byproduct of Howell’s difficult, mostly-mentorless childhood — a time when the Kicking Bear founder desperately wanted and needed an adult mentor.
Sadly, the school of hard knocks starts early for some. But fortunately, Howell would find that mentor, find hunting and the outdoors and, ultimately, find his way in life. His Kicking Bear Camps are a testament to the power of that outdoors kinship, and Howell’s amazing story is chronicled in the fall issue of Northland Outdoors magazine, which publishes in early August (to subscribe for free for future magazines, go to www.northlandoutdoors.com/subscribe/).
The camps have their roots in the Northland, but have spread like the upbeat feel that’s very much a part of these events. Eight of these Kicking Bear events remain in 2016, including the finale in Alabama.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ adult-mentored youth special deer hunts don’t necessarily wield that sort of life-changing vibe. But the mentored hunting concept is making a difference here, too.
“Parents or other adult mentors go with youth to the fields and forests during these annual hunting opportunities,” Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring coordinator, said in a release Monday announcing those 2016 hunts. “Time spent outdoors together is important, and continued adult support can shape youth into lifelong hunters.”
Through the DNR program, youths can apply to hunt deer in select state parks and other refuge areas during 17 special deer hunts in October and November. Deadline to apply is Aug. 19.
Of the 17 special hunts, 15 are firearms hunts for youth ages 12 to 15, and two are archery hunts for youth ages 12 to 17.
An adult parent, guardian or mentor must accompany the youth at all times while hunting, but only the youth may hunt. Both youth and mentor must attend a mandatory pre-hunt orientation clinic.
Archery (ages 12 to 17)
- Camp Ripley, 175 permits; hunt is Oct. 8-9, clinic is Oct. 7-8.
- Lake Alexander Preserve; 20 permits, hunt Oct. 8-9, clinic Oct. 7.
Firearms (ages 12 to 15)
- Afton State Park, 25 permits; hunt Nov. 5-6, clinic Oct. 15.
- Banning State Park, six permits; hunt Oct. 29-30, clinic Oct 28.
- Blue Mounds State Park, 10 permits; hunt Nov. 19-20, clinic Nov. 18.
- Buffalo River State Park, 14 permits; hunt Nov. 5-6, clinic Nov. 4.
- Camden State Park, 15 permits; hunt Oct. 29-30, clinic Oct. 28.
- Itasca State Park, 75 permits; hunt Oct. 15-16, clinic Oct. 8 or Oct. 14.
- Kilen Woods State Park, six permits; hunt Oct. 22-23, clinic Oct. 21.
- Lake Bemidji State Park, 20 permits; hunt Oct. 21-23, clinic Oct. 20.
- Lake Shetek State Park, 12 permits; hunt Nov. 19-20, clinic Nov. 18.
- Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, 15 permits; hunt Oct. 22-23, clinic Oct. 21.
- St. Croix State Park, 90 permits, hunt Oct. 29-30; clinic Oct. 22 or Oct. 28.
- Savanna Portage State Park, 25 permits; hunt Oct. 29-30, clinic Oct. 28.
- Sibley State Park, 10 permits; hunt Oct. 29-30 clinic Oct. 28.
- Tettegouche State Park, 10 permits; hunt Oct. 29-30, clinic Oct. 28.
- Zippel Bay State Park, 20 permits; hunt Oct. 22-23, park will mail clinic information.
In addition to the 17 application-only hunts in state parks and refuge areas, any youths ages 10 to 15 also may participate in the youth deer season that runs Oct. 20-23 in 27 permit areas that encompass portions of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota and portions of the Twin Cities metro area.
For more information about the youth hunts, visit www.mndnr.gov/discover and click on youth deer hunts.