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14
Outdoors: Skip Hess
Pheasant group provides kids opportunity to experience hunt


November 7, 2004


Jack Corpuz remembers taking an unloaded shotgun to school many times, never thinking there was anything wrong with leaving it in his car.

Forty years ago, when he was in high school, it was OK to do so. He had permission to go hunting after school.

"You can't do that anymore, of course, and I sure wouldn't advocate it," Corpuz, 57, said last week.

But what Corpuz, secretary of the Central Indiana Chapter of Pheasants Forever, advocates is that youths be taught how to use guns responsibly for hunting and sport shooting.

At least 15 inner-city youths will get an opportunity to do that on Nov. 20 when the 300-member chapter sponsors them on a pheasant hunt at Royal Flush Preserve in Parke County.

The hunt is a spinoff of various programs for inner-city youths who seldom, if ever, get to fish or hunt.

The Central Indiana chapter sought the advice of the Dirty Dozen Hunting and Fishing Club in Indianapolis, which has been successful with its program to take kids fishing.

Corpuz, of Indianapolis, said his chapter learned from the fishing club members that most of the kids they take fishing live in single-parent homes.

"They don't have a father or an uncle to take them fishing or hunting," he said.

The 15 youths that chapter members will take hunting are between 10 and 16, the perfect ages to learn how to respect firearms.

"We came up with five kids and the Dirty Dozen club came up with 10," Corpuz said. The chapter will use its funds to sponsor its first all-day hunting trip. Gander Mountain, Dick's Sporting Goods stores, Kroger and Royal Flush Preserve are also sponsors.

Youths taking the trip have successfully completed the Indiana Department of Natural Resources hunter education class. It teaches firearms safety, hunter ethics and responsibility, wildlife conservation, management and identification, game care, first aid and survival.

"We'll let the kids shoot off a few rounds (of ammunition) to get them familiarized with the guns," Corpuz said. The younger kids will use .410 shotguns and the older youths will hunt with 20-gauge.

Although the pheasants will be "planted" in the fields by Royal Flush workers, the youths will experience what it's like to actually hunt the birds with dogs.

"The dogs will find the birds. We'll have the dogs on a leash for their safety," Corpuz said.

Under adult supervision, each of the kids will get a chance to hunt two rooster pheasants.

"On the first one (flushed bird), we're not going to help them," Corpuz said.

It's likely that the kids will miss the bird on their first shot. "On the second bird, we'll (adults) carry a gun and knock it down," Corpuz said.

"The other part is cleaning the bird. They don't have to do it themselves, but they must watch us do it. Then they can take the tail feathers and show them off that they got them on a hunt."

Chapter members are aware there may be a downside to taking an inner-city youth hunting. Although the program may continue with others, the Nov. 20 trip may be the only time these 15 kids get to go hunting.

"Hopefully, we can get them interested in the sport of hunting and get them hooked up with a mentor down the road, or do whatever we can do," Corpuz said.

The chapter's goal is to make hunting a tradition in their lives.

"We want them to learn the value, the excitement and the camaraderie of hunting," he said.

Indiana is losing habitat for upland game. That's why there are scores of private preserves for pheasant and quail hunting in Indiana.

Still, Corpuz says there is a solution to saving the Indiana habitat, which is why Pheasants Forever has 16 chapters and about 5,000 members in Indiana, all working toward trying to return hunting to the way it was when he was young.

Call Skip Hess at (317) 862-1994 or e-mail skiphess.outdoor@sbcglobal.net .

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