Most teenagers look forward to turning 16, that magical age when they can get their driver’s license and gain a degree of independence. So when Joseph (my hunting buddy’s son) turned 16, he didn’t seem as happy as I expected. His father had the explanation.
“Joseph got too old to apply for the Ballard youth deer hunt,” he said.
Kentucky offers a huge number of options for young hunters under age 16.
Ballard Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in western Kentucky is one example. Only 300 people are allowed to deer hunt each year on this 8,500-acre area—and half of those slots are reserved for youth hunters.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife deer biologist David Yancy said Ballard, with its ratio of one buck for every two does, is probably the best public land for deer in Kentucky.
“You’ll see things there that you only see on the hunting shows, such as bucks chasing does,” he said. “It will be the hunt of your life.”
Last year, nearly 800 adults applied for 150 slots to hunt at Ballard. Two hundred youth hunters applied for the remaining 150 slots—much better odds.
Kentucky offers special mentor-youth hunts for deer, dove, and waterfowl every year, which allows a father, mother, family, or friend, to hunt along with a youth.
Kentucky also offers special youth-only seasons for deer and turkey. And at the end of the year, the state allows youths to hunt without having to pay for a license. This allows young hunters who receive a rifle or shotgun for Christmas to try it out.
Apply for quota deer hunts—including Ballard WMA—this month only by calling (877) 598-2401. The department no longer accepts mailed applications. Consult your hunting guide for available hunts, dates, and more information on youth hunting.