The smoke swirls around the grill, and fills the crisp morning air with the welcoming aroma of breakfast sausage. This was the first thing to greet the 16 youth hunters, and their parents or sponsors. They showed up just as the sun was rising on the farm yard at Crosby’s Wild Game Adventures west of Great Bend for the annual Pheasants Forever Rooster Booster Chapter #504 Youth Pheasant Hunt.
“We only have these kids for one Saturday morning, so we try to get as much out of one morning as we can,” said Chuck Fellhoelter, new Chapter Banquet Chairperson, who was busy flipping pancakes as the young hunters arrived. The day starts early with a pancake and sausage breakfast. Specially filled “Hunting Bags” are handed out by chapter members which include a hunting vest, hats, shirts, ear plugs and safety glasses. These will all be used during the morning’s activities. Next, a safety talk, followed by dividing the young hunters into two groups for the clay target shooting and morning pheasant hunt.
Clay targets and trap throwers for the youth are provided by the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism “Pass it On” program. PF chapter members help out with safety, gun mechanics and shooting instructions. “There are no bad questions,” is heard throughout the morning. The main goal of the chapter’s members is to pass on the skills they have learned throughout their lives to these new hunters who are just starting out. Safety is a top priority taught to the youngsters. After all the youth have become comfortable shooting and breaking clay targets, the main event begins... the pheasant hunt.
“I think all of the chapter members who are present have as much fun as the kids do. There is nothing better than watching these youth harvest their first birds,” said Bob Stiles, a PF committee member, who has always helped at the youth events.
After the hunt, everyone takes part in the bird cleaning. There are feathers everywhere, but by the last few birds, the young hunters are getting better at the process. The finale of the day is one of the most enjoyed by the kids. It is a field biology lesson from Charlie Swank, one of the PF chapter’s founding members, and wildlife biologist with KDWPT. Charlie dissects a rooster, identifying all the parts, and explaining their function. He is a great teacher with an attentive class.
Everyone who participated in the morning’s activities were grateful and appreciative to the sponsors who make this event possible each year. This year’s sponsors include: Crosby’s Wildgame Adventures, Warren Brothers Industrial Coating, Foley Rental, The Cat Rental Store-Bernie Guesnier and Sparky’s Guide Service-Bob Sharp.