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Scott Rall: Be one of those people

BY SCOTT RALL The Globe outdoors columnist So what would make a man or woman donate their time for 20-30 years to volunteer to coach a sports team? I understand that there are many coaching jobs that do pay, and in some cases, they pay big, but m...

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Pictured during their 2017 mentor pheasant hunt in Nobles County are (back row, from left) Bruce Collins, Spencer Collins, Traeton Holt, Nathan Schuck, Taylor McCarvel, (front) John Shea, Joshua Collins and Chad Nixon. Not pictured is Kevin Roth. (Submitted photo)

BY SCOTT RALL

The Globe outdoors columnist

So what would make a man or woman donate their time for 20-30 years to volunteer to coach a sports team?  I understand that there are many coaching jobs that do pay, and in some cases, they pay big, but many local sports teams are operated by volunteers.

I know the high school trap team instructors are volunteers, and I think the hockey program operates the same way to some extent.

There must be something inside that person that makes them want to consume their time doing these jobs.  In many cases they get plenty of guff even when they are doing a fantastic job. I applaud these people for their commitment.

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I had the opportunity to see this happen last weekend, but not for an organized sport.  I watched three local Pheasants Forever chapter committee members give up their Friday afternoon and all day Saturday to mentor some kids on what, for many of them, was their very first pheasant hunt. I followed suit the same weekend on Sunday afternoon.

As part of the Pheasants Forever-Minnesota DNR mentor program there were five individuals who signed up a few months ago to be guided on a pheasant hunt. There was one local kid who joined this group also.

Friday afternoon started with some clay pigeon shooting followed by a hamburger grill-out at my wildlife property. Gun safety was covered in addition to some helpful tips on how to make the following day the most successful.

Saturday was not a great hunting day.  It was kind of raining and pretty windy.  The adult of the group and the kids cowboyed up and walked for almost the entire day. There was one bird banded by that group but the effort was still considered a total success.

By the time the day ended the adults and the youth had a much better appreciation for what pheasant hunting was all about.  They loved the dogs and the dad was already doing some Internet research as to what kind of dog they should get.

The goal of a mentor hunt is to get that inexperienced hunter an opportunity. This means we hope they all get to at least shoot the gun.  If they miss the bird the mentor cannot control that. Many of these new hunters might have to shoot at many birds before they kill their first one.

The goal is to plant the seed in the hopes of igniting a love of the outdoors and the joy of hunting into the participants.  If there are more pheasant hunters, then there will be more people who care about their habitats and their future survival.

Few hunters might make for good pheasant hunting today, as you might not have to share your good spots with very many other hunters, but it bodes terribly for the future of hunting in general.  Mentoring is a way to give back to a sport that many of us consider the core of their outdoor pastime and dedication.

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The guys who helped out on this hunt included Kevin Roth, who traveled several hours to get here to help, John Shea, the administrator of the Noble County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Chad Nixon who works at Worthington Federal Savings Bank in Worthington.

They could not have done a better job considering the weather.  The youth I took I met when I was instructing the local Firearms safety Program last May.

We made a date to go hunting way back then and I loaned out a gun to Logan Barber to use for the season. We hunted on Sunday and Logan had three opportunities to shoot a rooster.  He connected on the third try and harvested his first rooster on his very first pheasant hunt ever.  His dad, Bruce Barber, followed up with two misses of his own.  Logan was going to give him some shooting lessons after that and just a little ribbing.

When Logan dropped that rooster and my dog Sarge was sitting next to me with the bird in his mouth, I explained to them both that I just had as much fun as they did even though I was not even carrying a gun. Mentoring is a rewarding effort, I imagine much the same as coaching as a volunteer.  Watching the smiles on the faces of those youth and even the smiles on the faces of the moms and dads who walk along is satisfaction enough to keep me and other mentors doing this for many years to come.

Giving back is natural for some and very hard for others.  I thank and appreciate those who give of their time and talents. There are so many great causes that can use a hand. Consider making yourself one of those people.  Pick a cause and then just go do it.

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Scott Rall, Nobles County Pheasants Forever president, is pictured with Logan Barber and his dad Bruce on Logan's first-ever pheasant hunt in Nobles County. (Submitted photo)

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