County teen wins youth hunter education contest

By Argen Duncan

A Roosevelt County teenager beat out almost 60 contestants Saturday to win a statewide hunter education contest.

Garrett Lee, 17, scored 2,065 points in the annual Youth Hunter Education Challenge in Raton, according to the YHEC website. Garrett’s father, Shannon Lee, said 2,400 points were possible.

Competitors shoot muzzle loaders, .22-caliber rifles, shotguns and bows, as well as take written exams, testing their use of compasses and maps, identifying wildlife and going through scenarios with a game warden.

“It’s real amazing,” Garrett said of his win.

This is the second time he’s won the overall ranking in his 15- to 18-year-old age division, he said, with the first time being 2008.

“I’ve been shooting since I was old enough to pick up a gun,” Garrett said, adding that everyone in his family shoots and hunts.

Shannon estimates his son was 4 or 5 the first time he was allowed to fire a gun.

Garrett said he’s always been interested in hunting and shooting and he hopes to join the Olympics shooting team. In the more near future, he also would like to win at Youth Hunter Education Challenge again next year, his last before he’s too old to participate.

To prepare for the contest, Garrett practices with the weapons and studies animal skulls and hides. He attends local Youth Hunter Education Challenge meetings for shooting practice and classroom work.

Shannon said his son spends a lot of extra time practicing with weapons at home and works on wildlife identification if he runs across an animal while out working.

“He’s always looking for something that he can practice with,” Shannon said.

Garrett’s 14-year-old brother, Clay, participates in Youth Hunter Education Challenge as well.

“He always encourages everybody else to work hard,” Clay said of his brother.

Clay also said Garrett helps other members after finishing his own work.

Garrett said he has to study the hardest for the written test and the “safety trail,” which involves going through scenarios in which a game warden evaluates hunter skills, safety and ethics.

He most enjoys working with the shotgun and bow. Garrett first hunted with a shotgun, and the bow is interesting and more of a challenge to use than people think, he said.