Dalton Gatschet, 8, shot a seven-point buck when he was only 7 years old.
When asked about the toughest part of hunting, Dalton said, “I’m not so good at patience.”
Youth hunters were among the thousands who took part in the Deer Classic at the indoor arena at Boone County Fairgrounds. Hunters and vendors mingled in the arena.
The event was hunter-friendly, full of camouflage-clad people, the smell of jerky and duck and the sound of turkey and deer calls.
Dalton came to the fair to buy a box caller — a small wooden box with a lid that slides across the top — to get ready for turkey season, said Richard Gatschet, his father.
Dalton hunts on a special permit available for ages 6 through 15. The $17 permit allows the young hunters to take advantage of a weekend designated for the youth to hunt without competition from adults. In two days the children kill 6,512 deer across Missouri, according to Lonnie Hansen, a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
With a youth permits and a 30-30 caliber rifle, Clint Sapp, 12, has been hunting for three years. He has killed three deer and last year took an eight-pointer.
Clint took a safety training course with the 4-H program. He sat through six hours of classroom training in safety and hunting history. He said that while he was unable to remember who invented the bow, he was able to recall all the hunting safety rules he learned.
Clint said he has gotten better at spending long hours waiting for the deer, especially after his first kill, an experience that made him shake.
“We had to track it. We had to look down to find the blood,” he said. “It fell a couple of times; you could see it a lot. We had to walk a mile.”
Zeke Broughton, 8, hunts with his father in Adair County with a youth license. He has been hunting since he was 4, he said. When asked what he does when he goes hunting, Zeke said with a wide grin, “I shoot deer.”
Zeke hasn’t killed one yet, but he is learning how to hunt.
Joe Broughton, Zeke’s father, said the first thing he taught Zeke was gun safety.
“Not to point the gun down into the dirt,” said Zeke. “I mean to (point it away from people),” he said, correcting his mistake quickly.
Last year, 622 youth hunting permits were sold in Boone County alone, Hansen said. They are valid for hunting deer and turkey.