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DNR, DU, FWS Hamden Slough team up for Youth Waterfowl Day hunt

Youth who have an interest in becoming waterfowl hunters are eligible to participate in a mentored hunt on Saturday, Sept. 19, on the 3,170-acre Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes. Application deadline is Monday, Aug. 17. Participants will be selected by lottery.

The hunt, a collaboration among the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), takes place on Youth Waterfowl Day.

The day was established to encourage experienced waterfowl hunters to take youth into the field and pass on their hunting expertise. On this day, throughout Minnesota, youth 15 and younger are allowed to possess a firearm and take waterfowl. Adults 18 and older can only assist.

DU will supply experienced mentors for up to 25 youth the day of the Hamden Slough hunt. An adult guardian or parent must accompany the youth on the hunt and to a pre-hunt orientation.

"This is a new opportunity for Minnesota youth," said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. "Participants will get a high-quality experience and expert advice from knowledgeable waterfowl hunters."

Kurre said the event is designed largely for youth who would not otherwise have an opportunity to experience waterfowl hunting. "Our aim to is reach those youth and parents who have an interest in waterfowl hunting but lack a companion to show them how to do it in a safe, supportive manner."

Youth hunters, who will be selected by a lottery, and their guardians will be paired with DU members who will serve as mentors. After a mandatory orientation Friday afternoon, the mentors will take participants waterfowl hunting in Hamden Slough on Saturday.

To be eligible to participate in the lottery, a youth must be 12-15 years old on or before Sept. 19; possess a valid firearms safety certificate; and have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian to accompany them as a non-firearms carrying participant to the pre-hunt orientation and the hunt.

Those interested in applying for one of the 25 available spots can go online or contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

The application deadline is 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17. The DNR will hold a lottery on Aug. 19 to select participants. Only successful applicants will be notified the week of Aug. 24.

The winner's notice will contain specific information about hunting license requirements, equipment needs and contact information for the hunt coordinator.

The Saturday, Sept. 19, hunt happens on Youth Waterfowl Day,

Hamden Slough, site of the special mentored hunt, was established in 1989. It is located in a transitional zone between flat, tall-grass prairies and rolling hardwoods and features rolling hills, grassland and small wetlands. Since the refuge was established, DU has invested more than $600,000 to restore and enhance the 500 acres of wetland habitat.

A high concentration of waterfowl and shorebirds have been attracted to the area due to restoration efforts on the refuge, in nearby federal waterfowl production areas and in state wildlife management areas.