Nov. 14, 2018
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK -- One question that springs up each year is how old a youth has to be before they may hunt by themselves. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulations state that a hunter must be at least 6 years old to kill a deer, bear or turkey, but the answer to hunting by oneself is a bit more complicated.
According to the AGFC’s Code of Regulations, anyone who has passed hunter education may legally hunt by themselves, regardless of age. However, just like introducing a hunter to the woods, the right age to responsibly allow a youth to hunt alone isn’t always a cut-and-dry decision. Some youngsters may be ready to physically handle a firearm at a young age, while others may take a few more years to develop proper shooting skills. Safe handling of a firearm and the responsibility to take only ethical shots also must be developed, regardless of a person’s age.
“The decision to handle that responsibility is the youth’s parent or guardian,” said Joe Huggins, AGFC Hunter Education Coordinator. “The minimum age on big game was similarly a parent or guardian’s call until some hunters took advantage of the system, checking deer to three- and four-year olds who couldn’t have possibly shot the size rifle needed to kill a deer.”
The Hunter Education material is written on a sixth-grade reading level, but instructors and the online course will read the test questions aloud during the examination if asked to do so.
“We don’t want Hunter Education to be a hindrance to hunting, but we do want people to learn the rules and hunt ethically and safely,” Huggins said. “I know some youth hunters who are more ethical and responsible than some adults, and I know others who still need supervision well into their teens; maturity isn’t only about a specific age.”
Visit www.agfc.com/huntered for more information on Hunter Education in Arkansas.