October 14, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.
Held again at Rocky Bay Kennel and Hunt Club near Pine City, the event drew 38 eager and excited youth ages 12 to 15 who had their gun safety certificate.
"Parents that came for the first time said they never knew an opportunity like this existed before, and they said they'd be back again as long as their youngsters qualified age-wise," said Jim Jorgenson, one of the chapter workers. "I think several will be back to Rocky Bay on their own."
"Kids loved the opportunity to get some instruction on how to shoot better," noted Aaron Otte, a chapter member who mentored at a clay target shooting station. "They also were polite and listened very well. And they couldn't stop talking about hunting pheasants and the first bird they ever bagged. For some first timers, they were excited even if they missed getting a bird-just seeing and hearing the birds flush."
The annual event again featured an emphatic 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, a PF blaze orange hat and lunch for participants.
Improving habitat for pheasants and other wildlife is the first priority for Pheasants Forever, but introducing the next generation of youth to carry on the hunting and conservation legacy is another major priority, according to Howard Vincent, president and CEO of the national organization, headquartered in St. Paul.
"Since Pheasants Forever's inception in 1982, our dedicated supporters and volunteers have helped to accomplish wildlife habitat projects that have benefited nearly 6 million acres of critical habitat," explained Vincent. "This includes more than 140,000 acres being opened to public hunting and other outdoor recreational activities through land acquisitions.
"In Minnesota, our grassroots model has allowed local chapters and supporters to complete 25,000 projects that have had a substantial positive impact on 212,470 acres of land," Vincent added. "The added benefits are less soil erosion and cleaner water."
PF chapter members Jon Olson, Paul Tralle and Jason Stepp were the youth hunt coordinators with help from Steve Zirkle, Aaron Otte, Syl Marking, Brad Klepsa and Jim Jorgenson, who supplied the lunch.
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