Posted 12-1-18, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (CODY) – For the last two decades, Worland Game Warden Matt Lentsch has been active within the community of Worland helping young hunters sharpen their skills related to hunting, or mentoring them on their first hunts.  In 2000, he founded the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program which is focused on recruiting youth into hunting and providing opportunities for first time hunters to harvest an animal with an experienced mentor.

This year, a father-son pair and five young hunters from Worland had the opportunity to experience their first hunt though the program.  Lentsch, Rance Neighbors, Richard Desmond, Brooks Jordon and Ryan Pedersen mentored these first time hunters and helped them harvest their first elk or deer this fall.  “We have some great mentors helping out, and it’s their interest and involvement that makes this all possible,” Lentsch said.

Being a mentor is very rewarding.  “It’s the coolest thing, being there when a kid harvests their first animal,” Lentsch said.  “The experience is powerful for a first-time hunter, it affects them deeply.”

Another aspect of the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program is the Young Hunter Care project- a special effort in which youth harvest antlerless deer, process the carcasses themselves and then donate the venison to local families in Worland.  Multiple young hunters participated this year and harvested, possessed and then donated the meat from six deer.  Right Choice Processing donates the use of their facility and Bill Bell donates his time to instruct the kids on how to process meat.   The program is in its eighth year.

Special thanks to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Wyoming Game Wardens Association who contribute funding to the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program, helping to make these projects possible.