Aug. 7, 2012 -- The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will recognize the boy and girl selected as the 2011 Youth Hunters of the Year during the 2012 LOWA Conference Awards Banquet in Chalmette on Aug. 11.
The common thread linking these two young hunters was their participation in special youth hunts conducted on public lands.
“This shows just how important these public lands, state and federal, are to the hunters in Louisiana and points out the good work being done by LDWF, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the USDA Forest Service,” said Kenny Ribbeck, LDWF’s Wildlife Division Administrator. “Establishing hunting opportunities for the next generation of hunters is our shared goal and the Youth Hunter of the Year Program is a good fit, along with the Louisiana Hunting Heritage Program recently initiated by LDWF .”
Twelve-year-old Emily Williams from Golden Meadow is the 2011 Female Youth Hunter of the Year. Emily is the daughter of Catina and Joseph Williams. She participated in the youth deer hunt on Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge in Marksville. Emily was very excited watching her first sun rise from the deer stand on a cold morning in Avoyelles Parish and the excitement only escalated when they began seeing deer and then dropped a 210-pound, eight-point in its tracks. She got quite a few thumbs up as she and her dad made the drive back home.
Seven-year-old Joseph Scooter Hayes is the 2011 Male Youth Hunter of the Year. Joseph is the son of Douglas and Jessica Hayes of Mansura. Joseph participated in the youth squirrel hunt on Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area. With his dad as his guide, Joseph downed his first fox squirrel with his .410. As Joseph described it, “The squirrel came tumbling down to the ground and dad made the retrieve.” Many baby boomer hunters can remember that first squirrel hunting experience in the Bayou State and can relate to the excitement young Joseph felt on this memorable day in the woods with his dad. His first hunt ended with a squirrel gravy that night, which he noted, “tasted really good, and LSU won their football game!”
The Youth Hunter Registry Program and the Youth Hunter of the Year Program are coordinated jointly by LOWA and LDWF. These two programs are made possible by the generous donations of the South LA Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, the Baton Rouge Chapter of Delta Waterfowl, Andrew Harrison with Harrison Law, LLC., the Louisiana Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Bayou State Bowhunters Association, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and Bowie Outfitters in Baton Rouge. The Bayou State Bowhunters Association, which is no longer operational, made a generous donation to the program prior to dissolving the group.
This year for the first time a runner-up was selected for both the male and female category. Ten-year-old Chloe Slayter of Pineville, who participated in a youth deer hunt on Buckhorn WMA, was selected as the runner-up for the Female Youth Hunter of the Year. Chloe harvested a buck and a doe and wrote that she can't wait to go hunting again.
Eleven-year-old Scott Duplechain of Thibodaux was selected as the runner-up for the Male Youth Hunter of the Year. Scott harvested his first deer with a gun when he was 10 and was given a bow for Christmas in 2011. Hunting by himself in a tree stand in January, Scott downed a nice six-point buck in Tensas Parish. He wrote that it was the best day of his life. The runners-up will receive a gift card from Bowie Outfitters in Baton Rouge.
For more information about the Youth Registry Program and the Youth Hunter of the Year Program, visit the LDWF website at http://ww.wlf.state.la.us/hunting/youth-hunter  registry-program or contact Scott Durham at 225-765-2351 or firstname.lastname@example.org  or visit the LOWA website at www.laoutdoorwriters.com  or contact David Moreland at email@example.com .