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Weekend hunt gives youth hunters guided support to nab first deer

A deer wanders through a field in this file photo. (Republic file photo)

PRESHO — Ten first-time hunters will get their shot at a deer this weekend.

In its second year, the 2017 Youth Deer Hunt allows 10 children between the ages of 10 and 15 to participate in a deer hunt with their parents, free of cost. The event will be Saturday and Sunday in Presho and features presentations from various organizations on topics ranging from outdoor survival and firearm safety to identifying different kinds of deer and choosing the best ammunition.

Armed with a firearm, lodging, deer licenses, ammunition, safety equipment and transportation to and from hunting sites, event organizer Spencer Downey said he hopes the event draws the families involved to the outdoors.

"We received a lot of applications, but what we really hammered home to people is we're looking for kids who don't have the opportunity to hunt," Downey said. "Whether that be because the family's not into hunting but the kid is or parents have never been hunting and don't understand, we're gearing the hunt toward those youth."

And for 10-year-old Easton Overbo, it's a dream come true.

This summer, Easton and his mother, Laura, attended the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, where they approached a GF&P officer about mentored hunts. They talked long enough and showed enough interest, Laura said, that the officer gave the family an application for the youth hunt, and they filled it out immediately.

When Easton found out he was accepted, he cried tears of joy, Overbo said, and he has had his clothes picked out and bags packed for weeks.

"Hunting doesn't run in our family at all. In fact, my husband grew up in a family of vegetarians and I never felt comfortable with guns," Overbo said. "But Easton is really into it. It's a tradition at our house at suppertime to talk about the best part of our day, and Easton always said the best part of his day is that he's one day closer to his hunt."

Only 10 applications were accepted so each hunter will receive the proper training and attention to make the event a success, Downey said.

Area landowners are allowing the hunters to walk their land along the White River, and Downey said he anticipates every child will have the opportunity to shoot a deer, but "it's up to them if they'll hit it," he joked.

If a hunter is unsuccessful on Saturday, they can go out again Sunday morning. And the opportunity wouldn't be possible without the Tripp, Jones and Lyman county chapters of Pheasants Forever, local sponsors, and the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, Downey said.

"Doing something like this is important because it gets the kids outdoors and it really brings that bond to a kid and parent," Downey said. "I remember going out when I was younger with my dad and grandpa and that's stuff you never forget on both ends."