Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt a big hit

Two proud youth hunters, Zach Caldwell (left) and Tom Cheney (right), holding a rooster pheasant alongside Greg Koury, the guide, and his dog Easton, a German wirehaired pointer. Photos supplied

The 14th annual Chisago County Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt was a “home run” again, despite hot and very dry weather, which makes it hard for bird dogs to perform well.

Held at Rocky Bay Kennel and Hunt Club near Pine City, the event drew 39 eager youths ages 12 to 15 who had their gun safety certificates.

The annual event featured a strongly worded gun safety talk before the hunt, a 25-shot round of sporting clays target shooting, a hunt for pheasants with a guide and trained pointing dog, free shotgun shells, lunch and a Youth Pheasants Forever Membership.

“Everybody seemed to have a great time,” said Steve Zirkle, one of the event leaders. “We got good reviews. We had a total of 39 kids with 27 who were first-time participants at our youth hunt. We are already booked at Rocky Bay for next year’s hunt on Oct. 6.”

“We had some excited kids, especially the first timers,” added Jon Olsen, event chairman. “One young fellow got his first-ever pheasant, and he was jumping up and down with excitement. For those who had never cleaned a pheasant before, free instruction was offered, too”

Young hunters shown are, front row (l to r): Bryce Fix, Rydn Meeker, Brook Hoppe, Jack Hegle, Teddy Pierce, Tanner Faltisek, Kevin Route, Gabbie Hughes, Sam Peterson, Adam McClure, Jarod Kendrick, Alana Bordeaux, Hailee Berg. Middle row: Dakota Schultz, Jordan Busse, Brody Zak, Sam Peterson, Brady Sterbentz, Danny Peterson, Jack Dunaski, Jake Wensmann, David Anderson, Robert Engersoll, Hannah Backman, Anneke Linser, Sam Firl. Back row: Hayden Scherer, Jake Willing, Matt Benolken, J. T. Hunziker, Michael Pilz, Logan Mueller, Nick Solberg, Nick Mench, Hunter Worden, Zach Caldwell, Tom Cheney, Tallie Horsch, Kohl Horsch.

Improving habitat for pheasants and other wildlife is the top priority for Pheasants Forever, explained Tim Kane, chapter president. But introducing the next generation of youth to carry on the hunting and conservation legacy is another major priority of the national PF organization.

In fact, they have a program called “No Child Left Inside,” which is aimed at getting youth outdoors instead of sitting on a couch and watching TV or playing computer games and videos.

PF chapter members who helped put on the event included Jon Olsen, Tim Kane, Steve Zirkle, Jeff and Mike Egelkraut,, Bruce Gockowski, Reed Masloski, Mike Hyden, Neil Evenson and Syl Marking. Carrie Jorgenson of Pine City Dairy Queen donated the free lunch.

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