It must be human nature for some folks to fudge, to skirt the rules, to find an excuse for taking shortcuts.

Motorists often drive a little over the speed limit or do a "rolling stop" at an intersection. Golfers may nudge a ball away from an unfavorable lie if no one is looking.

And a grown-up may take a rifle along on a youth-only deer hunt "in case some wild hogs show up."

Surely not, you say? OK, in past years, deer have been checked in the names of two- and three-year-old kids.

These are not crimes of the century by any means, but they are unpalatable to most hunters who understand and abide by the rules of hunting, the regulations that are meant to protect the resource first and to make things fair for everyone second.

So the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says adult mentors, those accompanying kids under 16 on the special youth hunts, cannot carry firearms.

This rule change should not bother anyone — except the corner-cutters.

If you hunt deer where wild or feral hogs are, you know that deer avoid hogs. Should a bunch or even a few hogs show up in front of your stand, forget about seeing a deer until the hogs are well gone. There are exceptions, of course, but this is generally the normal scene.

A daddy and his 12-year-old son or daughter go to a stand on a youth hunt day. The youngster has the use of a .243 rifle and has practiced with it. Father and child have talked a good bit about this day. Anticipation is high.

Why would anything want to alter or defile the scene by taking a .30-06 or a .300 Magnum rifle under the guise of shooting feral hogs if they show up?

More logically and hopefully, if hogs come into the picture, the adult will whisper, "Shoot a hog, kid. Right now. Don’t wait."

But, and we repeat, some folks just are inclined to cut corners or to cheat.

Under this new no adult firearm rule, the adult is allowed to take archery gear, including a crossbow, to the stand with the kid on a youth hunt. Wearing hunter orange is required.

The youth hunt dates for the deer season coming up are Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3, and Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 4-5.

On the youth gun hunts, the young folks can shoot bucks and does, and there are no antler restrictions on the bucks. Regular zone bag limits and restrictions apply. Deer taken during the youth hunt count toward the youngster’s statewide limit of six.

Dogs cannot be used on youth deer hunts anywhere in the state.

The adult mentor on a youth hunt can be anyone, not just a parent or a grandparent. Older sibling, another relative, a friend or a neighbor can be the person to go along with the kid. If the youth has completed hunter education, the mentor can be 18 or older. If the youth does not have a hunter education certificate, the mentor has to be 21 or older.

OK, the rules are there. The real priority is to create a special experience by accompanying a young boy or girl on a deer hunt. Memories are waiting to be made.


Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at