Roosevelt County kids learn hunting safety and competition

By Tony Parra

Some may be asking, if a 10-year-old can abide by the hunting safety rules and not harm anyone then why can’t Vice President Dick Cheney?

Too bad Cheney is too old to enroll in the Roosevelt Youth Hunter Educational Challenge which is for the Roosevelt County youth between the ages of 10-18. Between 10-15 youths attended a Roosevelt County YHEC meeting on Thursday night so they can learn more about hunting with a shotgun, muzzleloader, bow and a .22-caliber rifle.

Glen O’Rear, Rick Ledbetter and Scott Chambers are some of the organizers of the instructional classes and training. The cost is $100 per participant, which Chambers said will go towards the purchase of ammunition. Chambers said a payment plan can be arranged with parents for the cost.

Braden Tucker, a 10-year-old from Portales, said he would ask his older brother questions about hunting.

“I like duck hunting and shooting prairie dogs,” Tucker said. “It’s a hobby of mine. My brothers got me interested in it.”

Orrie Spinks, a 10-year-old from Portales, said he is relatively new to the hunting sport. Spinks said he has hunted jackrabbits.

“I enjoy the chase the most,” Spinks said. “I came here to learn more. It’s (hunting) what I would like to keep doing. I want to learn more about trails and mapping.”

Spinks said he likes to use the muzzleloader the most of the four weapons for the hunting challenge.

Chambers said parents must also purchase the weapons required for practicing on the range. According to Chambers, a muzzleloader can cost $90 to $400. They would like to have the fee or arrangements made by March 12. The instructors will teach classes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays beginning March 9. The classes will be held at the Chaparral Heating building at 416 S. Ave. C and the young hunters will need to bring pencils and paper.

The first day the hunters can go to the practice range is March 9. Chambers said they will practice on the police shooting range with their coaches from 1 p.m. until dark on Sundays.

Chambers said absolutely no horseplay will be tolerated at the range. He said horseplay may result in the hunter being kicked off the range.

“The main thing is safety,” Chambers said. “We do not want to have any accidents on the range.”

The practices will be used to improve the hunters’ skills until the state competition begins. The YHEC New Mexico competition will take place on June 3 in the Whittington Center in Raton.

“The more you learn the better you’re going to do in Raton,” Chambers said.

Chambers said there were 21 participants from Roosevelt County in last year’s state competition. He said members from 16 counties participated in last year’s competition. Participants must have hunter safety certification. Organizers said when the young hunters attend the classes, the organizers will arrange for them to gain their certification which is also required to hunt in New Mexico.