This article will help answer all of the questions we get about applying or building points for youth under 12 years old. I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out the best way to give my kids a good start in the application game throughout the West. Amy and I have three sons, Connor (13), Caleb (11), and Colter (9). I have been building them points and applying them everywhere I could since I started working for Huntin’ Fool in 2012.
The strategy I use for my boys is that I want to apply them for only the best hunts they can draw and then build points in every state I can for their hunting future. My reason behind this is that we live in Montana and are very close to Idaho so there are a lot of over-the-counter opportunities for them to stay busy. In states like New Mexico and Idaho where there is no point system, I just apply them for good hunts that fit our schedule if they are lucky enough to draw. If our schedule is full, I skip the states that do not have a point system.
Most states require a youth to have taken a hunter education class. Check with the state you are a resident of and ask them at what age your youth can take a hunter education class. I am a resident of Montana, and they only allow youth 11 or older to take hunter education. After talking with the Montana hunter education coordinator about my desire to have my boys hunt out of state, they decided to allow them to go through the class at 9 years old. I am thankful Montana allowed them to attend the class. Idaho was my back-up plan to get their hunter education completed.
The states featured in this article are ones that you can either apply or buy points in if your youth is under 12 years old. I apply or build points for my boys in all the states listed below except Alaska and Kansas. I talk to hunters all the time who are afraid to start building points for their kids as they are not sure they are going to hunt. If they choose to not hunt, it is not a total loss as a lot of states average points when you apply as a party, so you or someone else could ride their points to draw a tag.
Youth must complete hunter education and be 10 years old by the start date of the hunting season if they want to hold their own tags. If a non-resident youth is under 10, they may buy a hunting license and hunt under an adult’s tag without having taken hunter education. Once a youth reaches 10 years old, they must have taken hunter education to hunt. Alaska does not have a point system. There are no price breaks for non-resident youth. The non-resident hunting license was $160 in 2018. I have never applied for or taken my boys hunting in Alaska.
Youth must complete hunter education and be 10 years old by the start of the hunt. They may apply for bonus points if they are 10 by the application deadline. Arizona is great to youth by offering them a combo hunting and fishing license for only $5, and the application fee is $15 per species. I apply my boys for bighorn sheep, elk, deer, and antelope. My total cost per kid is $65, but I am building points for their future. Another great thing about Arizona is that they allow a parent or guardian to transfer a tag to a youth between the ages of 10 and 17.
Youth must complete hunter education and can apply for tags as long as they turn 10 years old before they hunt. Idaho is really good to youth hunters and has reduced price tags and a youth hunting license to only $31.75. Idaho does not have a point system. Youth can apply for any of the big game species available, but they have to follow the same rules as adults. If they apply for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, or moose, they cannot apply for deer, elk, or antelope. I put my boys in for deer, elk, and antelope every year. My total cost per kid is $76. Idaho allows a parent or grandparent to transfer a tag to a youth between the ages of 10 and 17. Idaho is my favorite state for youth hunting opportunities, and my boys have taken full advantage of those opportunities.
There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in Iowa, but you have to have passed a hunter education class to apply in Iowa. This is a preference point state, so whoever has the most points gets the tag. It costs $50 to purchase a deer point. I only build deer points for my boys in this state. I have no plans of taking them to Iowa in the near future, but the points never expire, so I am building them four points each and they will have them until they use them. The reason I stop at four points is because that is what it usually takes to draw the archery tag. This way, if we ever decide to hunt Iowa, we will be able to go and not be three or four years out like most people who have not prepared.
There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in Kansas. Any hunters 15 years old or younger may hunt without hunter education as long as they are under direct supervision of an adult. Kansas has a reduced price hunting license and deer tag for youth hunters. The youth hunting license in 2018 was $42.50 and the deer tag was $117.50. Kansas is a preference point state, so whoever has the most points gets the tag. You can purchase a point for $26.50. You only lose your points if you fail to apply for five consecutive years. I have not purchased my boys points in Kansas as the deer tags are very easy to draw.
There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in Kentucky, but you have to have passed a hunter education class. Kentucky does not have a point system. It is only $10 to apply, so I put my boys in for the rifle bull permit. When they get more proficient with a bow, I will also start applying them for the archery bull permit. I don’t apply them for the cow permits as that is a long way from Montana to drive to hunt a cow elk. If I lived on the eastern side of the United States, I would be applying them for the cow permits. I doubt anyone in my family will ever draw in Kentucky, but for only $10, we will keep applying. It would be really cool to harvest a bull elk east of the Mississippi River.
To apply for a moose permit, a youth must be 10 years old by the start of the moose season. Any non-resident youth younger than 10 may apply for a moose point for $15. Hunter education is only required for youth 16 and older, but youth under 16 must be accompanied by an adult who has passed hunter education. I apply each of my boys in Maine for moose. The older two go into the draw, and my youngest is still just applying for points. My total cost per kid is $15.
This state does not really fit into the application strategy for kids under 12 years old as they can’t apply to draw tags in Montana. To apply for a tag in 2019 in Montana, a youth must turn 12 by January 16, 2020. The reason I am covering Montana is that they allow youth over the age of 1 to apply for points only. This is a good opportunity to build your kids points for the future. There is no price break for youth, so they pay the same fees as the adults. As a non-resident, it will cost you $75 each to buy points for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, or moose. It costs $25 each to buy points for elk, deer, antelope, and mountain lion.
There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in New Mexico, but you have to have passed a hunter education class. New Mexico does not have a point system, so I only apply the boys on years it fits our schedule. The best thing about youth hunting in New Mexico is the season dates the state sets aside for them. Youth hunters usually get to hunt closer to the rut on some of the best elk and deer areas. We break down the best youth hunting areas and opportunities each year in our New Mexico section in the February issue. The youth hunting license is $15, but all of the tag and application fees are the same as the adults. New Mexico can get expensive as you must front the entire tag fee. I usually apply the boys for at least deer, elk, and oryx each year. Another good opportunity in New Mexico is their landowner tags. These are getting more expensive every year, but there are a number of parents who are taking their kids to New Mexico on the youth hunts. I have a good friend who would buy a unit 15 muzzleloader elk voucher each year and then get his daughters the youth season muzzleloader elk tag that allowed them to hunt the week before the first muzzleloader hunt.
Oregon does not allow youth to apply for tags unless they will be 12 years old by the time of their hunt. Oregon allows youth 9-11 to buy points for deer, elk, and, antelope. The youth license is $10 and then it is $8 per application for each species, so for $34, you can be building points in Oregon for deer, elk, and antelope. Oregon is a preference point state, so whoever has the most points gets the tag. I don’t recommend people build points for Oregon unless they are going to be applying there for a long time. Oregon sets aside 5% of the draw tags for non-residents and then gives half of those to outfitters. If you are applying in Oregon, non-residents will get 2.5% of the deer and elk tags and 3% of the antelope tags. Most of the better deer, elk, and antelope tags take 17+ points to draw. I apply my boys for Oregon as we hunt it on a regular basis on over the-counter tags and they already have a hunting license. Oregon also allows youth hunters to fill their tag under the youth mentored hunt program. Caleb filled my antelope tag this year under this program.
There is no minimum age requirement to apply or hunt in Washington, but you have to have passed a hunter education class. Non-resident youth under 16 years old can apply for permits for $3.80 each. This is a great savings as the non-resident adult pays $110.50 to apply for the same permit. I have been applying my boys for Washington and will continue until they turn 16 years old and then I will never apply them again as it too expensive for the steep draw odds for the permits. I don’t even apply Amy or me in Washington due to the high application fees. I apply my boys for mountain goat, conflict mountain goat, any moose, cow moose, youth moose, bighorn sheep, ewe bighorn sheep, and youth bighorn sheep. It costs me just over $30 per kid to apply them for those eight permits. If they are lucky enough to draw, the youth tag fee only costs $57 for any moose, goat, or sheep permit. The odds are horrible, but in 2017, Connor drew a mountain goat permit in Washington!
It is never too early to start applying your kids for points as they are an investment in their hunting future. I talk to Huntin’ Fool members all the time who wish their parents would have started building them points as a kid. I was lucky and started building points across the West when I was still in high school and those points have paid off throughout my hunting career. If you have any questions about building an application strategy for youth, give us a call. Good luck in the 2019 draws!