MONTGOMERY, W.Va. — West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police officers recently partnered with Mountaineer Challenge Academy staff to provide an opportunity for cadets to go through a hunter education course and participate in an antlerless deer hunt in Roane County.
The special hunt continues a years-long partnership between the WVDNR and Mountaineer Challenge Academy. WVDNR Police have been teaching hunter education classes at Challenge Academy’s northern campus in Kingwood since February 2009 and at the southern campus in Montgomery since January 2018. Fisheries staff started working with cadets in 2022 to stock trout. This is the first time the agency has partnered with the academy to host a hunt for cadets.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for the Natural Resources Police to partner with the Challenge Academy staff in providing an opportunity for these young cadets to harvest their first deer safely and ethically,” said Col. Bobby Cales, chief of the WVDNR Law Enforcement Section. “We enjoy watching these young hunters take what they’ve learned in our hunter education program and utilize that knowledge in a field setting.”
The Mountaineer Challenge Academy, which has campuses in Preston and Fayette counties, is a residential program that places at-risk teens in a quasi-military environment where they can obtain a basic education and learn how to be productive and contributing members of their communities.
The four cadets chosen for the hunt had never hunted or fired a gun before. During the hunt, which took place on private land on Dec. 10, each cadet was paired with a WVDNR Police officer and a volunteer, who provided guidance and assistance. Three of the four cadets were able to harvest a deer.
“We want to thank everyone who helped make this hunt possible,” said Cales. “Retired Florida Game Warden John Partain and his wife Julie opened up their farm and home to the cadets for a meal and Mr. Ronnie Stone, a neighboring landowner, made his farm available for the hunt.”
The Jackson County Hunting Heroes organization donated money to District 6 to supply the cadets with camo backpacks filled with items, such as binoculars, blaze orange hats and vests and snacks. The West Virginia Natural Resources Police Officers Association also donated to make the hunt possible. Hunters Choice in Shady Springs is helping process the cadets’ harvests.
“The Mountaineer Challenge Academy is an exceptional program and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the years to come and for even more opportunities for our agency to mentor these kids and help them get on the path to success in life,” Cales said.
For more information about the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, visit wvchallenge.org. For more information about the WVDNR Police, visit WVdnr.gov/law-enforcement.