Redwood County Pheasants Forever members accompanied a group of young hunters out in the field Saturday for a special pheasant hunt
By Per Peterson
As a couple black labs and a spaniel darted around them, a group of blaze orange-clad Redwood County youth took to a field east of Milroy on Saturday for the annual Redwood County Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt.
Jim Thalacker, who has been running the program for the last three years after Dale Trulock organized it prior to that, said for many of the youth taking part, this was their fist time hunting pheasants. Each of the participants (up to age 17), he said, must show proof of completing a gun safety course.
“Some of them come from families that don’t hunt,” Thalacker said. “This might be their only time they get to hunt. This gives them a real good chance to practice the safety that they’ve learned.”
Indeed, safety is the No. 1 priority, and the adult mentors make sure each youth respects their guns and their surroundings. They remind them to not shoot to the side or low to the ground and to keep their guns pointed upright.
“We talk a lot about safety,” Thalacker said. “They can only shoot straight ahead. And they learn to keep a straight line and how to hunt with dogs — there’s a lot of safety involved with that. We tell them, ‘You only shoot when there’s blue behind the bird.’ We don’t want someone shooting somebody’s dog.”
Thalacker said the youth also learn about conservation and the importance of taking care of land and habitat, whether or not they join a Pheasants Forever organization when they get older.
“Hopefully they’ll be Pheasants Forever members down the line, but we want to teach them everything we can,” said Thalacker.
Thalacker said he’s watched his two grandkids develop a love for hunting as they’ve gotten older, and hopes parents can experience the same thing he did in that regard.
“When they see their child get their first bird, that’s a great thing,” he said.
Jim Zollner, who farms about 5 miles west of Wabasso, accompanied his 14-year-old daughter Kenzie on her first pheasant hunt Saturday.
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.