The Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a couple youth hunts this fall, like so many times in recent years.

We are fortunate that Kevin Manock and everyone involved with the Youth Waterfowl Hunt and Mark Althoff and everyone involved with the Youth Pheasant Hunt work hard behind the scenes to ensure a fun, rewarding outdoors day for youths.

The Youth Waterfowl Hunt is scheduled this weekend – Saturday, Sept. 14 and the Youth Pheasant Hunt follows three weeks later on Saturday, Oct. 5.

As life passes by, some of my favorite memories are spending time outdoors with daughter Kayla. Time outdoors with your children or mentoring young people is one of the best investments one can make to benefit others.

It must have been special times for her as well since a large photograph of a duck decoy set on a small slough near Cayuga at sunrise adorns a patient room wall in her dental practice. Fun to be reminded of great times every day at work!

Sportsmen’s Club members have been great mentors. Greg Braun has volunteered for years. Before him, Dick Bell loved the times with young people in the cattails. Some hunters affectionately knew him as “Grandpa.”

Tim Phalen, North Dakota Game and Fish game warden, and Jack Lalor, retired Tewaukon Refuge employee, set up decoys in waterfowl production area potholes. They attract puddle ducks like blue and green-winged teal, shovelers, wood ducks, gadwalls and mallards.

It is magic immersed in wetlands habitat during early daytime hours Sloughs are the lifelines for all kinds of critters. Fish-eaters like cormorants and pelicans fly by, slowly flapping their wings. Predators of the skies – bald eagles and northern harriers, survey the prairie for unsuspecting prey. Colorful shorebirds like American avocets and sandpipers promenade the shorelines on their way south. Huge flocks of red-winged blackbirds fill the sky.

Muskrats are busy swimming in shallow water, gathering plant materials for their winter food caches. Much is learned without a word said, just observing.

Greg Gerou, Steve Manock and others prepare a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast after both hunts to feed ravenous appetites whetted by long treks to sloughs and hours spent outdoors.

Chuck Haus hosts the Youth Pheasant Hunt at his farm west of Hankinson. Private landowners are the key to wildlife habitat and Chuck is a very conservation-friendly farmer with many acres of prairie grass, wetlands, trees and food plots.

Mark Althoff spends considerable time emphasizing the importance of safety and respect for the land. It is gratifying to observe a hunting mentor who does things the right way.

All the senses get a work-out while walking his land. Background music includes geese honking, gulls squawking while high overhead, sandhill cranes whooping in the distance, rooster pheasants crowing like chickens and mallard hens quacking while lifting from the water.

Hunting and spending time outdoors with your children is a remarkable opportunity. We are fortunate to live in the Upper Midwest where hunting is still a treasured heritage. Quality hunts are among the most treasured times of your life.

Take a kid, or son, or daughter, or neighbor hunting! The outdoors is just too darn great not to share it with others!

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.

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