By Kierra Pixler
The Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have joined forces to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and affordable. The Texas Youth Hunting Program sponsors introductory, instructive youth hunts for a variety of species of animals. They take youths, ages 9-17, on hunts throughout the state year round and have over 1400 volunteer hunt masters who are trained and certified in hunting. They recently held their Annual W.M.A. Hunt in Memory of Jacob Krebs. The hunt also catered to the youth of family members of fallen or wounded veterans.
Belton resident Linda Grant and her 12-year old son, John, attended the hunt for the first time. The program is much more than just hunting for a weekend. They provide a place for the younger generation (plus parents) to bond while also learning how to properly hunt, harvest and preserve the meat.
“When we arrived at the hunt it was my son’s first experience of ever even seeing anything like that and the first fifteen minutes that he could fire his rifle, he actually fired it and harvested a spike,” said Linda Grant. “It was amazing. When we went to go process the animal he had never seen that before and so I began the process. It was a complete anatomy and physiology lesson and then once he was comfortable with actually seeing that then he joined in on finishing the process of harvesting the animal completely.”
Chris Mitchell has worked himself up from Operations Coordinator in 2012 to currently being the director of the Texas Youth Hunting Program. This last hunt was held was in memory of Jacob Krebs, a young man who died in 2013. It was also an opportunity for family members of fallen and wounded veterans to gather and remember/honor those who have served.
“William Krebs and his family host a hunt in memory of their son, Jacob, who died in 2013 training to join the Navy and ultimately become a Navy Seal,” said Mitchell. “William is a longtime Huntmaster and works year round to set up this unique hunt which hosts 25 youth hunters. The hunt also honors veterans by giving children of wounded warriors and veterans priority for selection on the hunt. The Harper Wildlife Management Association and the Harper community bands together for this hunt. Local land owners and the Harper community donate time money and access to properties in the area to put on this hunt. TPWD biologists, Game Wardens and the State Veterinarian also participate in making the education on this hunt one of the best offered on any of our hunts.”
William and Mary Krebs, along with their two children Jacob and Julie, have been long time members of the program. Although Jacob passed away in April of 2013, his memory lives on through the annual hunt each year.
“He loved to volunteer with TYHP and the youth hunters ed program. He enjoyed all aspects of helping out other youth on the hunts,” said Mrs. Krebs. “His aspiration was to become a Navy SEAL and if it didn’t work out, he wanted to be a Navy Corpsman and fly with the SEAL team to rescue and bring back wounded soldiers. His greatest love was to be in the military since he was about 7 or 8 years old. He never missed a chance to tell a soldier or veteran “thank you for your service”. Anytime he saw someone proudly displaying a military insignia on a cap, jacket or shirt, or in uniform, he would seek them out and shake their hand and tell them. That’s why we honor the military, specifically wounded warriors, and the special ops families – most importantly their children in memory of Jacob. He continues to live on in the lives of others in his organ donation. He saved the lives of 5 people that day, including an Army Veteran who was a medic. He has greatly enhanced the lives of over 40 more people through tissue, cornea, tendon, skin and bone transplants.”
The TYHP also has volunteer opportunities available and you can find a schedule of upcoming hunts on their website.
For more information on The Texas Youth Hunting Program please visit www.tyhp.org or call (210)930-2177.