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Novice hunters get their shot at bagging a pheasant

By Patrick Ison,

The fourth annual Pheasants Forever Youth Pheasant hunt Saturday allowed 34 inexperienced hunters the chance to hunt pheasants. The weather was cool with a slight wind and light rain. Volunteers running the dogs said the cooler weather was better for the dogs.

"This has been one of the better years for the weather," Wildlife Officer Jim Davis said.
A total of 34 kids came out to the Collard Scenic River access. Originally, 54 signed up to hunt. After those slots were filled, 12 kids were told no more room was available.There was no minimum age requirement for participants; however, those participating were required to have taken hunter's safety and were required to be able to handle their shotgun. The maximum age was 15.

Val Gillig, treasurer for Pheasants Forever, said they have had children as young as 6 and 7 participate. All participants were required to take a safety course before the hunt, part of which involved shooting trap, before they were taken to the hunting area.

"Most who participated just finished hunters' safety," Gillig said.

She said next year, to allow more participants, a deposit may be required. Originally, 54 kids signed up for the event.

To accommodate the young hunters, birds were set at various places in an open field. Birds had their heads placed under one of their wings and were rocked back and forth to put them to sleep. This ensured the birds stayed where volunteers placed them. To mark the spot a bird was located, a white ribbon was tied on a twig.

Pointer and flusher dogs were used. No birds were shot on the ground.

Davis said birds that got away will most likely remain in the area.

"Most of the birds are good fliers in good health," he said.

Participants of many different skill levels hunted. Davis estimated 50 percent of those who participated shot birds.

"These kids are not going to come on a more realistic hunt than this," he said.

Gerry Ranker, a volunteer, said he enjoys the reaction from the kids.

"That's what gets me - the kids," he said.

Ranker brought his golden retriever, Gage, to help flush birds. He works with his dog frequently, normally nine months each year.

"It's not just about killing things. I like watching the dogs," he said.

Don Hunter, volunteer and supplier of the birds, said one normally needs two seasons to train a good bird dog. Hunter raises English springers.

"You should take them out every morning during the hotter months," he said.

Adam Black, 11, participated in his first hunt this season. He hopes to come back next year. Black was able to bag a pheasant.

"We shot him and he fell right to the ground and the dog got him," he said.

Black used a single-shot 20 gauge to shoot the bird.

The event was sponsored by the Seneca County Pheasants Forever, Tiffin Seneca Izaak Walton, Sandusky River Coon Hunters, Seneca County Muzzle Loaders, Seneca Soil and Water District, Department of Natural Areas and the Division of Wildlife.

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