LCPF Press Release
Twelve participants joined mentors and volunteers from Lyon County Pheasants Forever (LCPF) and Redwood River Sportsman’s Club (RRSC) on Sat. Oct. 22 in what was for many their first trip into the field for pheasants on lands located just southeast of Marshall, Minn.
The annual LCPF Mentor Hunt event was once again held at the RRSC clubhouse and shooting range, and was open to hunters age 17 and under, inexperienced female hunters and inexperienced families looking to get into hunting. The event kicked off at sunrise with 10-clay sets of trap to help participants shake the rust off and get them ready to shoot at an airborne target.
“Taking advantage of the trap house really helped get the participants ready for those roosters that would flush later in the morning,” explained LCPF Vice President, Johnny B.
Before heading out to the field, Minn. DNR Conservation Officer Matt Loftness took time to talk safety and regulations with the participants and answer their questions on topics ranging from what one should do if they see a violation, how to properly account for birds in the bag, and what happens when more than one bird flushes.
At opening hour, the participants broke into five groups with three to four mentors and their dogs in each group and departed for a number of hunting areas around the RRSC clubhouse which consisted of over 2,200 acres of private land and more than 2,500 acres of public land. Immediately, participants were seeing birds as they set off into the fields.
“We flushed a rooster as we closed the doors on our pickups when we arrived at the [Gerry] Bue lands,” said LCPF President, Nick Simonson, “it wasn’t long until 9:00 a.m. was upon us and the first rooster was in the bag about 10 minutes later!”
Good reports came in from most of the groups, which were aided by light west breezes and cool starting temperatures, making conditions ideal for the mentors’ hard-working dogs. In total, over 60 birds were flushed before noon, including nearly 15 on a walk through the lands immediately adjacent to the clubhouse as part of the popular “noon walk” the groups go on together before lunch when they return after their morning outings.
Through beautiful waist-high CRP and clumps of sweet clover planted eight years ago by RRSC which connect the habitat of Rooster Flats WMA with Amiret WMA on either side of the property, members of the reunited groups and a number of mentors and their dogs flushed six roosters, and participants bagged two in addition to the eight they had picked up in their separate walks in the morning. On top of the great shooting, participants were very safety conscious and respectful of each other’s firing zones.
With a number of birds on the table after the lunchtime presentation, LCPF Treasurer Ron Prorok set to work showing participants and their parents how to properly clean birds for transport in Minnesota and helping a few who bagged birds get “hands-on” with their quarry. He reminded those watching that each bird must have a leg with a spur, the feathered head or a whole wing still attached so it can be properly identified if a Conservation Officer requests.
Following the cleaning presentation, the participants had the chance to shoot trap on the RRSC ranges and talk to mentors and volunteers on how to improve their aim.
“The Mentor Hunt is a great opportunity to introduce young people to the shooting sports as well,” said Kevin Kayser, RRSC President, who helped the new hunters take better aim on the trap stations.
After time on the range, the hunters went out for an afternoon hunt to destinations on private lands around the Lyon County area. While hunting was a little bit slower in the warm temperatures, a few roosters were seen, and the groups bagged two in the afternoon to bring the event total to 14, tying a recent high number of harvested roosters with 2014’s event.
Thanks to the generous offering of access from area landowners, hunters were able to pursue less-pressured birds and have a great experience. Those allowing participants on their land for this year’s Mentor Hunt were: RRSC, Louise Van Moer, Tom Hahn, Ted & Janet Schotzko, Donata DeBruyckere, Ken Noyes, Ken Bossuyt, Loren & Marci Peterson, Gerald Bue, Tom Barber, and Kenneth Schultz.
“We can’t thank these landowners enough,” said Simonson, “by allowing access to their acres; they made it possible for five brand new hunters to bag their first birds; helping cement them as sportsmen for the rest of their lives,” he concluded.
Volunteers for the event included Mark Radke, Kevin Kayser, Mark Peper, Kyle Andreska, Dave Simonson, who kept the food coming for lunch and the trap stations firing out orange targets all afternoon for the participants.
“The event is a great time, not only for the hunters but for us as mentors,” Johnny B, “getting new hunters out into the field is a big part of our chapter’s mission, and the mentors really stepped it up this year to make it a great hunt, so we owe them a lot of thanks for their efforts.”
Mentors for the 2016 hunt included Simonson, Johnny B, Prorok, Arlyn DeBruyckere, Troy Dale, Loren Peterson, Kelly Novotny, Jim Breczinski, Kevin Mayer, Tanner Bruse, Dave Scherf, Gary Gilbertson, Steve Gnoza, Paul Schuld, Gabe Pieper, Tim Moberg and Dave Verschelde.
Participants included: Matthew Podas, Dustan Wilmer, Nick Atcher, Connor Gabrielson, Even Greenfield, Carter Gabrielson, Tate Walerius, Zach Marr, Joe Speltz, Pete Braun, Hanna Lavoie and Jamie DeBruyckere.
All participants had a chance to take a shot at flushing birds, and many got multiple shots off during their hunts. Mentors reported that the hunters were safe, conscientious and high-spirited throughout the event.
Next year’s Mentor Hunt is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 and registration for the event will open in late August, 2017. For updates on youth events and other activities through LCPF people are encouraged to like LCPF on Facebook, follow the chapter on Twitter (@lyoncountypf) and bookmark the chapter’s website.