Nobles County PF offering youth hunting opportunitiesWORTHINGTON — What do you do if you are a youth that really wants to try hunting and you don’t have anyone to take you?
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — What do you do if you are a youth that really wants to try hunting and you don’t have anyone to take you?
This is one of the greatest challenges of passing on the age-old tradition of hunting to the next generation of those who will care about our natural resources. There are more and more conservation organizations that are getting on board to help these youth experience a hunting outing that they long for.
It was last year the Pheasants Forever chapters in Minnesota teamed up the Department of Natural Resources to offer guided mentor hunts. These hunts are offered at no cost to the child or parent.
Last year’s initial effort resulted in many youths ages 12-17 getting the opportunity to hunt pheasants. I think the number was more than 200.
This year the Nobles County chapter of Pheasants Forever is getting on the bandwagon and has committed to host 10 youth in this year’s hunt that is taking place on Oct. 24 in Nobles County.
The youth that want to take part are required to fill out an application available at any license center location or on-line at the DNR Web site. The applicant is required to pick a first and second choice of counties in which they wish to hunt. After all of the applications are received, they are matched up with available hunts in those counties. If the number of applicants is greater than the number of available hunts, a lottery is used to determine who gets to participate.
The deadline for application is Aug. 21. The successful applicants will be notified by Sept. 26. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified. Applicants must be between 12-17 years of age and have completed the DNR Firearms Safety Program.
A parent or guardian must accompany each youth. The only person actually carrying a gun that day will be the youth. Neither the parent nor the Pheasants Forever guide is hunting. They are along to help the youth experience a safe and enjoyable outing.
This encompasses many things. Safe gun handling will be top on the list. Other things like good sportsmanship, ethical behavior and gaining the proper skills to become a good pheasant hunter will also be shared and promoted.
I am really looking forward to this day. I have been involved in more than a few outings where a youth has bagged their first bird. There is no better photo opportunity than this. These smiles will be forever fixed on the youths face and the smile on the parents face are just as rewarding.
The day will start out with a safety meeting and the assignment of each youth hunter to the respective mentor guide. It is Pheasants Forever’s’ intentions to work with the Worthington Gun Club to continue the morning with a little trap shooting to get the hunters warmed up. It will then be off to the field for the start of shooting time, which is 9 a.m.
A break for lunch and another trip to different hunting spots that will end around 5 p.m. with a pheasant supper supplied by the Pheasants Forever mentors that day.
There is no guarantee that every youth hunter will harvest a bird on this day, but from my perspective, it is the opportunity to bag a bird that is most important. I might have a hunter that shoots at 10 roosters on that day and harvests zero. The score would be roosters 10 and hunters zero, and that would still be a good day.
I think the parents who attend will also get a good look at how hunting can be a parent/child bonding activity. Hunting gets a bad rap in some circles, mostly because those dissenters have never experienced a quality-hunting outing. Parent and child alike will get to see a good hunting dogs work, hunt in great habitat and learn about pheasant biology.
This hunt is more than shooting birds; it’s about learning an appreciation for the greatest game bird in North America and the time-honored traditions of hunting.
I would guess that these pairs, after they have spent a day in the field, might very well do it again and again. This could be the start of a lifetime activity for parents and child.
With more than 200 kids participating last year, and who knows how many this year, I believe that this program in Minnesota could become the model for the entire nation. Great things are often completed in small steps, and it is my pleasure to participate in the individual step in Nobles County. I encourage you to share this youth hunt with prospective youth and motivate them to sign up.
There is one key thing that you might be able to do to help in this effort. One of the keys to a successful outing is the opportunity to hunt in a controlled environment and this means private land access. Private land ensures that there will not be any competition from other users on the same parcel. If you support these youth hunting efforts and might be willing to allow this youth hunt to take place on your property please contact me, Scott Rall, Nobles County Pheasants Forever hunt coordinator, at 507-360-6027. This is a one-day event and all the participants sign a waiver of liability so the landowner is protected.
I am proud of the efforts of our chapter members. We have instituted a number of youth activities throughout the year and this will be one of the best. When it is complete I will make sure that you get to see the pictures of these kids on this sure-to-be quality outing. October 24th is only about 85 days away and this pheasant season looks like it will be similar to last year.
Summer is great and fall is just a little better.
See you with a kid in the field real soon.