The annual Youth Pheasant Hunt sponsored by the Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club provided a quality outdoors day for 13 area youths.

They were fortunate to walk prairie grass, slough bottoms and shelterbelts on the Chuck Haus farm near Hankinson. 90 percent of North Dakota land is privately owned so it is a good idea to be friends with farmers. We are grateful for Chuck’s conservation habitat.

Mark Althoff has organized the Youth Pheasant Hunt since its start in 2006. He does a phenomenal job.

Mark’s middle name could be “Safety” as fine a job he does promoting it. Game bird identification, hunting ethics, fair chase, picking litter and respect for our environment are emphasized. He wants to pass on our hunting culture to the next generation.

Sometimes single-day events are questioned as to long-lasting impact and wildlife officials consider recruitment of young adults a target. This writer considers every single opportunity to get young people outdoors a valuable investment. We appreciate supportive parents.

We have sadly seen young people of our community die from accidents and health. When family reminisce about impacts, fishing and hunting experiences are among the most revered times. I have witnessed youth fishing derby trophies and youth hunt pictures at memorials.

Mark and other volunteers mentor youths who shoot at clay pigeons the night before at Mooreton’s trap range. We are fortunate to have shooting facilities readily available at Mooreton and Breckenridge.

Youth hunters learn the swing needed for a very unpredictable target. Pheasants can explode at your feet or even behind you.

Generous sponsors include the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, ND Game and Fish Department, Renegade Toms / Wild Turkey Federation, Richland Pheasants, Pioneer and ND Wildlife Federation. Steel shot shotgun shells, orange hunting caps and hunting vests are given to each hunter because of the support.

Ring-necked pheasants, natives of Asia are North Dakota’s most popular game bird. They are even South Dakota’s state bird. Roosters are stunning with red face masks, white collars, bronze underparts and lower back blues and greens.

The Prairie Pothole Region is in its fall glory with gold, brown, copper, tan and yellow plants. Orange-clad hunters zig-zag with well-trained hunting dogs in-front. Some are pointers and others flush the birds. It is awesome to sense the dog’s excitement just before an inevitable flush.

We are fortunate to avoid thunderstorms but there is heavy mist, drizzle and light rain. Pheasants sit tighter and a few flush from mentors walking well behind the dogs.

After walking a couple miles, a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast is ready in the farm shop building.

The hunting tradition continues with lots of story-telling and it is revealing just to listen. Many quality things happen during a hunt, especially seeing other wildlife like ducks, geese, sea gulls, coyotes, red-tailed hawks and whitetail deer.

A few prized ring-necked pheasants were harvested and pictures were taken, always best in the field. Youths were shown how to process game to be tasty table fare. Pheasant dumpling soup and stir fry are my favorites.

Lifelong memories are made with the Youth Pheasant Hunt. Young girls and boys can’t wait for the next hunt. It whets their appetite to experience the outdoors!

That’s what it’s all about for wildlife clubs like the Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club.

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.

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