The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Wildlife Officer Foundation have announced the winner of the annual “Passing on the Tradition” Hunting Heritage essay contest. Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, was awarded the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation. Tyler won second place in the 2015 essay contest.
Junior hunting license holders or youths under 16 who earned a hunter education certificate in 2016 were eligible to participate in the contest. Entrants were asked to describe their favorite hunting memory in 500 words or less.
Tyler’s winning essay described his introduction to turkey hunting, first tagging along with his father at age five, and his eventual transition to becoming a hunter himself. In recent years, he wrote, his father would bring a camera, rather than a gun, when they ventured into the field together.
“In hindsight, he was always toting a camera, decoys, blinds and pockets of calls. Every trip he planned was for the kids,” Tyler wrote. “I’ll always be grateful for the unselfish giving of his time, foregoing his own ability to hunt, so that I could develop skills and memories that will last me a lifetime.”
The essays were reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives.
“Tyler’s essay stood out because it tells the story of not only his own development as a hunter, but his father’s as well,” said CDFW Lt. John Nores. “The simple act of trading his own gun for a camera says so much about what’s most important to him. That’s what hunting heritage is all about — passing on the tradition and the love of the sport to the next generation.”
Eleven-year-old twins Dan Elliott and David Elliott of Rancho Cordova tied for second place this year. The third place winner is 14-year-old Blake Iverson of King City. All will receive plaques and other prizes donated by the Wildlife Officers Foundation.
AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.
For more information on becoming a hunter education instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition,” please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.