LYON COUNTY - The Youth Mentor Pheasant Hunt started off Saturday morning as dawn broke over the Redwood River Sportsman's Club outside of Marshall.
"A Mentor Hunt is where we take experienced hunters and their dogs, and pair them up with one or two youths or inexperienced hunters," said Lyon County Pheasants Forever President Nick Simonson. "It's going to be good this year, numbers are up and we expect a good hunt on public and private land."
Participants brought their own guns, mostly 12- and 20-gauge shotguns.
Photo by Steve Browne
Harvey Noyes checks the guns and ammunition of participants in the Pheasants Forever Youth Mentor Pheasant Hunt on Saturday before the kids headed out into the fields with experienced hunters to introduce them to the sport.
The hunt started with breakfast before dawn and a safety meeting before the teams headed out into the fields at 9 a.m.
Dale Tammeus took his daughter Katie, 13, for her first pheasant hunt.
"I've been looking forward to it," Dale Tammeus said. "Hunting is always fun, but it's special whey you have your loved ones with you."
Last year Katie Tammeus sat in a deer stand with her father to get a taste of hunting.
"I'm really excited," Katie Tammeus said.
Asked what she intended to do with her pheasant, Katie said, "Let my dad eat it."
Joel and Mary Zabel brought their son Joel, 13, and family friend Nick VanderVoort, 12.
"We shoot here at the range," Nick VanderVoort said.
This is young Joel Zabel's first pheasant hunt, though he's been hunting squirrel for a few years.
"We went deer hunting last year with muzzle loaders," his father Joel Zabel said.
According to Simonson the national organization of Pheasants Forever awarded the Lyon County chapter with a Young Guns package of two 20 gauge shotguns, two .22 rifles, and two air rifles. The packages are designed to get young people familiar with firearms.
Troy Dale is a wildlife biologist for Pheasants Forever and works out of an office at the Lac qui Parle Farm Service Center.
"It's a really important pastime for families and friends together," Dale said. "It's important for the economy and brings in a lot of money. Hunting controls game population, reduces disease by thinning out the population so disease doesn't spread so readily, and in harsh winters, hunting helps limit population in a humane way so game doesn't die off for lack of food and cover."