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COMMENTS BY KIM: That first rooster

As I was driving to the annual Pheasants for the Future youth pheasant hunt last Saturday, I found myself thinking about the youngsters who would soon be participating in the hunt. For many of them it would be their first chance at harvesting a rooster pheasant.

I was thinking back to my first rooster pheasant as a large covey of partridge flew over the roadway in front of my vehicle. The full moon was still visible through the front windshield and the morning sun was in my rear view mirror. The ponds had the usual mixture of ducks or geese sitting on them, their reflections mirrored on the calm water. The colors of the fall landscape were brilliant in the early morning sun. Perfectly North Dakota.

When I arrived at the site chosen for the youth hunt there was already several people there, most were volunteers setting up to host the hunt. A few young hunters were there too and more arriving by the minute. You could see the eagerness in their eyes.

Bird dogs were pulling at their leashes as handlers flashed big smiles. In a few moments the dogs and young hunters would enter the field where colorful, cackling roosters were waiting. It reminded me of my first pheasant hunt and how exciting it was. I knew these young hunters were experiencing the same thing.

Their minds had to be racing with thoughts. Keep the safety on until you are ready to shoot. Don’t drag the gun stock up through your armpit where a hunting coat will certainly interfere with proper mount. Is the field of fire safe? Is my head on the stock? Is my shot anywhere near the dogs? Is the bird a rooster or a hen? How much should my lead be?

Of course, while all those thoughts rip through a person’s mind the bird is flying quickly and increasing the distance of the shot. More than one young hunter has gone through the checklist only to find that the bird has flown out of range. It is part of the learning experience. It’s not as easy as it may seem. There’s a lot to think about in the blink of an eye.

When it all comes together and that first rooster hits the ground and the dog proudly brings it back, it completes a wonderful and unforgettable experience. All the practice with shooting clay pigeons, time spent at hunter safety class, and advice from parents and mentors has fallen into place perfectly. Wonderful moment.

Way to go Pheasants for the Future for a job well done! Great job too to the young hunters! They are the future of our hunting heritage in North Dakota.

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