Wyoming 4-H Youth Hunt

Intrepid Outdoors’ Challenge of the Hunt continues this week with a story about a handful of kind kids and a ranch owner with a big heart. Intrepid Outdoors video editor Michael Hanich rarely gets to go out in the field to film, but he was called on to capture some management doe hunts with a group of Wyoming 4H kids. He captured the quests on film and shares the story through the this post: 

As an editor at Intrepid Outdoors, it’s rare to find myself out of the office and behind a camera. However, once a year, there is a weekend that I know I’ll be out in the woods filming. Every November my boss and executive producer, Mike Schmid, holds a youth hunt in partnership with the Wyoming State 4-H foundation on his ranch in northeast Wyoming. This hunt gives a small group of high schoolers a chance to take their first deer and sometimes turkey. Bob Sexton, the 4H foundation board chairman, and Steve Mack, the director of the foundation, helped organize this hunt two years ago. And with help from the Solitude Ranch near Devils Tower, Wyoming and Intrepid Outdoors, this hunt has become an exciting annual weekend for the youth of the state.

Intrepid Outdoors Executive Producer Mike Schmid gives direction to a group of 4H kids during their stay at the Solitude Ranch near Devils Tower Wyoming.

Each year, 4-H student members must write an essay and send in an application to be considered for the hunt. Bob Sexton, who also helped start the 4-H shooting sports program, works closely with the kids to help them complete their applications. When it comes time for the hunt, a select few are chosen and everyone heads up to the Solitude Ranch for a weekend of hunting, safety, food and fun.

The weekend starts off with a small shooting competition to decide who will go with which guides and also who gets to hunt first. Students take turns demonstrating proper shooting technique and marksmanship in a friendly competition. When the hunting teams are paired up with their guides, it’s time to head out into the field.

As part of deer and property management on the Solitude Ranch, the young hunters are asked to only take doe mule deer or whitetail does. This not only enables the young hunter to harvest a deer, but to also learn about field dressing and wildlife management. Plus, they have some good venison to take home to their families when the weekend is over.

Nathan Maue harvested his first deer this fall at the Solitude Ranch as part of its annual 4H youth hunt.

Here is where I come into play. Every year myself and co-worker Wade McMillin head over to the Solitude Ranch to help film the 4-H hunts. We get paired up with a team of hunters and a guide and get right to work filming. I was responsible for filming three hunters over the course of the weekend. The first night I went out with Solitude Ranch manager and guide, Frank Amos, and two youth hunters, Hannah and Kenny.

They were a blast to get out and film with and both of them were able to tag out on the first night. The next morning, I went out with ranch guide Josh Gullet and a young man named Billy. We ended up hiking for miles and were finally able to get Billy his first doe.

4H Youth hunter Shaylee Little smiles on the way out for an evening doe hunt at the Solitude Ranch near Devils Tower, Wyoming.

Being able to get out and film and be around such positive attitudes about youth hunting was a pleasant change from my 8-5 workday in the editing suite. The work that Mike Schmid, Bob Sexton and Steve Mack are doing for young sportsmen in the state of Wyoming is unparalleled.

It is important that a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts inherit the art of conservation so that it is not lost entirely in future generations. Teaching safety, shooting skills, deer management and wild-game dressing are solid foundations that will lead these young “4-H’ers” into a life of respect and love for the wilderness and its amazing wildlife.

I know this because I have seen the smiles on their faces.

Tune in for this weeks episode of Intrepid Outdoors Monday at 6:30 PM ET, Friday at 3 PM ET and Saturday at 12 PM ET.