NWTF, Forest Service partner for South Dakota youth hunt

NWTF volunteers and partners are in a constant state of either holding a hunting heritage event or planning the next. Our volunteers work to pull together partners, other volunteers and private landowners for these one-of-a-kind events in the hopes those experiences will spark a life-long passion for the outdoors and our hunting heritage. It’s just what the NWTF does.

Last year, chapters across the country held more than 1,300 of these events. Some of those events were focused on youth, some were focused on introducing new hunters to turkey hunting and some were focused on just getting folks outdoors. No matter their focus, each event is important and each life those events touch is critical to the NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative.

Recently, seven young hunters participated in the Second Annual Camp Crook NWTF-USFS youth spring wild turkey hunt in South Dakota and Montana. All seven successfully harvested their first birds.

Camp Crook, South Dakota, is a small town that sits on the South Dakota-Montana state line. The Sioux Ranger District, through an NWTF-USFS Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, holds the hunt to further the NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. hunter recruitment efforts in Forest Service Region 1, said Collin Smith, NWTF district biologist. USDA Forest Service Assistant Fire Management Officer Bobby Cordell and Smith developed the hunt as a way to promote the NWTF/USFS partnership. 

The Crow Peak Longbeards chapter in Spearfish, South Dakota, coordinates the JAKES event, and the NWTF and the Forest Service partner with local 4-H youth shooting programs to identify youngsters who have never been turkey hunting.

The Sioux Ranger District Forest Service staff assists with identifying public and private hunting sites and securing permissions to hunt. The Camp Crook local community and ranchers also provide locations to hunt on their private ranches. The local 4-H program assists by providing breakfasts and a luncheon for the youth hunters, their parents and the guides, Smith said.

The guides consist of experienced NWTF volunteer mentors. The Crow Peak Longbeards chapter provides hats, box calls and JAKES memberships for each youth attending. 

Local outfitters Matt and Carmen Gilbert offer the use of their lodge to house NWTF guides free of charge during the hunt.  Much of the credit for the planning of the event belongs to Robert Cordell, a Forest Service employee, Smith said.

This event and countless others across our nation would not be possible if the NWTF did not have the support of outstanding partners, dedicated volunteers and faithful private landowners who donate use of their property.

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South Dakota