April 16, 2013
Outdoor Hub is privileged to sit down with guitarist Ed Eason as he discusses Mentor Quest, a personal odyssey to preserve vital knowledge and skills for the next generation, particularly focusing on the outdoors. Ed plays a number of roles in his life: musician, artist, outdoorsman. None, however, are as important as his role as a father.
That is why he set out on a quest to learn from the experts and leaders in the outdoor industry (such as Buck Knives and Mathews Bows) so that his sons and others may benefit from the wealth of knowledge. His three boys are aged 10, 7, and 3.
Watch the video below to learn more about Mentor Quest:
Otherwise, let’s dive into the interview.
Outdoor Hub: One of the reasons you started Mentor Quest is because you want to teach your sons valuable knowledge. How do you think the world has changed since you were a kid and you were learning these skills?
Ed Eason: Obviously there’s a big drift away from the outdoors. Society seems to be more and more disconnected from the outdoors. That really bothers me and that’s one of the reasons I started diving into Mentor Quest. A lot of people seem to be scared of the unknown and are not willing to take a risk. People are forgetting about the thrill of the adventure.
Do you think there are any benefits living in today’s world for children, especially with the advent of the internet and easy-to-access knowledge ?
You can get on the internet now with all these different websites and online magazines that offer a plethora of information right at our finger tips. What I found was a challenge for me, though, was sifting through all that information. Sometimes there’s so much it can be a little overwhelming. You go on YouTube or whatever and you can get all these people who present themselves as experts. Who are the real experts and where are legitimate places to find knowledge? It could be a little frustrating trying to find it. But, it is still an amazing time for both kids and parents because that knowledge is at our fingertips. It just takes a little more effort to find it.
Do you think anything has changed for the worse in the modern world?
Yes. I’m especially sympathetic to people who grow up without fathers. Most of the time, they won’t have the chance to take part in those traditions that were passed down by the men in their families. It’s not a good thing.
For me an important thing for a growing child is a good example. That can include traditions and outdoor skills they need to learn. I think some people are afraid to let their kids get out into the wild, get out there and explore and be kids. I know as a dad I make sure that my children have that experience.
My own parents divorced when I was in the second or third grade. I didn’t see my father for years, however I was fortunate enough to have someone who helped to guide me. We connected and his family took me in like their own. He had all daughters and so I got to be, in a sense, his son. It was because of him that I got to go hunting and fishing and all these experiences.
It was because of him that now when I’m an adult I realize how important it is that my children have them as well. He made such an impression on my life that it’s now going forward to my own kids. I don’t want my boys to learn from random people, I want them teach them myself. This is sort of the catalyst to what became Mentor Quest.
What was the motivating factor for you to start this project?
There are many pieces to this question. Here’s one of them: I wanted to buy a shotgun and there were three different guys I asked for advice. I got three different answers. While I appreciated their opinion, you can understand how difficult it was for me, someone who didn’t know much about buying a shotgun. And then I said, “why not learn these things straight from the experts?” Then I can have valuable knowledge for my boys. It’s coming straight from the heads of companies, the top hunters, anglers. This information will be valid and reliable. Another aspect is that when I was leaving for tour a while ago, I knew I was going to be leaving my family for some time. Then I wondered what I’ll be doing with that time. I needed to invest it in something. I was in prayer a lot. Then one morning I woke up and I came up with the idea for Mentor Quest and since then its been driving me forward.
What do you like to do for recreation outdoors?
Hunting, fishing, and camping. Love going camping now. Never had a hobby my whole life. Ever since I started playing the guitar when I was 13, I’ve been consumed with that. Now I’m coming home with this wealth of knowledge that I’ve learned. My favorite thing that I’ve gotten to try so far was to go elk hunting with a bow. I’ve gone turkey hunting several times and everybody tells me that elk hunting was the same thing, but to the Nth degree. I love the proximity. It’s unbelievable that you can get close to the animal.
How do you balance that with your professional life?
I’m fortunate that on tour I have days open. I can go hunting when on tour. I’m never more tired than when I’m in the middle of it all. When I’m at home I turn off the professional side of me, and then I take off with my sons and get out there.
From meeting with these experts and learning all these cool new things, is there anything you wish you had learned or done earlier?
I wish I had dived into fishing more when I was a kid. Fishing is one of those things that I’m still getting into and there seems to be so much to learn. I’m still learning all the different types of fish and techniques and rods and reels. I wish I had started earlier and hopefully will be doing more this year.
What would be your ideal outdoor adventure?
It would probably be Alaska. That would be the place for me. There’s just something about the ruggedness of Alaska. I want to be inspired.
What would you say are the first steps for parents who want to become a mentor to their own kids?
Don’t be afraid to ask the people you know. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbor. Ask them, “how do I do this?” If you want to go fishing ask them to take you fishing. I found that people are really receptive to that. When I humble myself and ask you how to say, tie a fishing knot, you’d be happy to show me. People want to teach. The hardest part is asking to learn.
What is next for you and Mentor Quest?
I’ve got big things in the works. Some big brands such as Buck Knives are on board with Mentor Quest and I’m talking with several production companies about taking Mentor Quest to TV. I’m very excited about the direction and opportunities that have come my way. Equally exciting are the great people I’m lining up to film. Some great people, great personalities, and great adventures are in store!
Read and join the discussion on Guitar Strings and Bow Strings: Exclusive Interview with Musician and Mentor Ed Eason at OutdoorHub.com.
April 2, 2013
The general season youth turkey hunt runs Monday, April 8, through Sunday, April 14. Youths who are 10 to 15 years old on April 8 may participate in the general season youth hunt. All youth hunters must have a valid hunting license, and they must...
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March 1, 2013
How many times have you been sitting around talking about a waterfowl hunt and had a friend or family member say that they would like to try that “some day?” Introducing a new person to your sport should be done with patience, effort, and a good dose of humility. You never know if he or she will enjoy it, but you want them to have a good experience and maybe join you again. This is especially true if you’re planning to bring your significant other along waterfowling.
Many years ago, I asked a buddy of mine to go play golf. What possessed me to teach him the intricacies of golf is beyond me. He lacked the coordination and for lack of a better term, grace to play the game. Off we went to the golf course, armed with the knowledge that this may be an exercise in futility and, for me, totally entertaining.
I don’t claim to be good at golf. In fact, my play hardly passes as golf, but I know the basic concepts of the game. I did my best to explain the basics. In other words, I wanted him to understand the game and why I was beating him. I hoped he didn’t get too frustrated too. A key to helping someone new experience a sport you enjoy is to make it fun, even when the work is hard. Besides, he is bigger than me and I didn’t want to get hit with a seven iron.
He beat me, and I don’t mean with the aforementioned seven iron. He’d never before picked up a club in his life, and he beat me; not just by a stroke or two either. I couldn’t even have cheated to get close to his score. Believe me, I tried. He just had a good game and I…did not. So he got a round of congratulations, and I got a serious dose of humility. Being good friends, he made sure to rub it into my face at every opportunity and still does.
Making a waterfowler
I decided the time was right to introduce my then-girlfriend/now wife to goose hunting, the sport that occupies the majority of my fall. I initially went on the premise that it would give us more quality time together. I really wanted to see if she had as much fun as I did, and therefore understand why I spent so much time and money chasing birds.
The first step was convincing her that she could go and my friends wouldn’t mind if she were there. This was no big deal and was the easiest step. Granted I did take a certain amount of ribbing from the guys. Okay, I took a lot of abuse from them, but it was all in good fun.
I then began to tell her what to expect, based on how the past seasons had gone. This is a little tricky seeing as how seasons can vary. I didn’t talk up any “hot spots” or “sure bets.” This is a kiss of death. I recall one time when I went hunting with a friend who kept talking about this field that was “sure” to have multitudes of geese. Well, as you would expect, I ended up seeing more geese in my bathtub than I did in that field. My friend blurted out, “I just don’t understand,” a few times, and so on. Nothing can turn off a new hunter faster than unfulfilled promises. The best bet is not to make them in the first place.
One of the next things we started doing is going over her gear list. A quick bit of begging and pleading with her father got her the use of a nice shotgun. I then went through the steps on how to decide which camo patterns would work best for the type of hunting we were going to do, and why it was necessary to wear camo in the first place. I took her to Cabela’s and helped her pick out her camo, and she ended up being quite proud of her purchase.
We worked on her shooting skills so she could effectively and safely take game. We started shooting with a stationary target so she could understand the shot pattern. Her dad got a kick out of slipping in a 3 1/2-inch turkey load with the 2 3/4-inch field loads we were using. While I admit the result was kind of funny (okay, it was really funny), she didn’t agree.
When it came time to shoot clays, I told her that she may miss some. I added that geese were much bigger than clays, and they were slower. I didn’t want her to get upset when she didn’t hit any. That turned out to be a pretty good idea, because she didn’t hit any that first time out. In fact, it wasn’t until our third trip to the range that she actually hit one, even with my expert teaching. I, on the other hand, was showing her how it was done. I couldn’t miss. I imagine if I had taken my golf buddy to a driving range, the result would have been similar.
The day of the first hunt came. We saw very few geese and they wanted nothing to do with our field. A hunter in the group, who was invited by another, lamented that it was a waste of his time, and he left. My new hunter, though, just said, “That’s why they call it hunting,” and took the whole thing in stride.
The first few days of the season went the same way with geese avoiding our field like there was a neon sign over it that read “hunters.” Finally a lone goose came in low over the decoys. My new hunter carefully aimed and bagged her first goose. I was very proud.
Shortly thereafter, a small flock came in and I decided it was my turn to fill my limit and “show her how it’s done.” My three shots caressed birds with steel shot but did little to re-arrange any migration plans. She, on the other hand, fired twice and sent two geese crashing to the ground. Beginner’s luck, I guess. It didn’t help that she said I could tell my buddies that I shot the geese.
That whole season was pretty rough on me. Each time I took her, the result was the same, she took geese, and I did not. My ego took some abuse. But her passion for waterfowl hunting is now there, and she can’t wait for the season to come around every fall. Now I have a hunting buddy as well as a wife and partner.
Since that first season, I’ve tried to convince myself that I let her shoot more geese than I did. The reality is she’s turned out to be a pretty good hunter. Our son is now showing signs of the desire to hunt. He gets as excited as I do when a flock of geese flies over, and he goes out with us in the field some days to hunt. The bad news, my son has also expressed an interest in learning golf. I have learned to be patient when bringing a new person into a sport and to be humble as well. One thing is for sure; it’s not easy.
Read and join the discussion on Hunting and Humility: Thoughts on “Making” a New Waterfowler at OutdoorHub.com.
February 28, 2013
My boys and I arrived at Dry Creek Ranch in southwestern Louisiana on a sunny afternoon in late winter. The Forets, part of our father-son group of hunters, arrived a few moments before us. We were out in the middle of nowhere it seemed, and happy to be so. The grounds of Dry Creek Ranch were perfectly manicured and the lodging was inviting. Off in the distance, red stags were grazing and guides driving John Deere Gators were getting ready for our hunt. The pointing and flushing dogs were whining in their kennels.
The final members of our party arrived shortly after us. Once down, we all poked through the ranch house and rooms and then met with Josh Sill. Sill, the owner of Dry Creek Ranch, swapped stories with us and made small talk until we were all ready to go. Sill owns and manages the 900-acre preserve and his love for this place and accommodating hunting groups is very evident with his great demeanor and the magnificent grounds we were looking at.
We jumped on the Gators after introductions were made with our guide and we headed to the duck pond. We were making a mallard hunt and all of our boys were ready to do some shooting. The first groups of ducks quickly came in after we set up in the ground blind. My son took a quick passing shot and knocked down his first duck on the wing. Another group came in and Todd’s son folded a drake and suddenly we were on a roll. All of the boys rotated through and the shoot was amazing. Our boys love to hunt and this opportunity was a big one in their development and passion for the sport.
After quickly filling up our limits, we headed back to the lodge and kicked back for a relaxing night and incredible dinner provided by Sill. We dined on stuffed chickens from Hebert’s Specialty Meats, corn and a garden salad. The best pecan pie, in my humble opinion, was served right after. Everyone retired to bed at different times that night, including a rambunctious bunch of boys in the adjacent room that were still high on the duck shoot that afternoon.
Their energy level kicked back up again at 5 AM, and the boys who cannot seem to get up during the school week suddenly came to life in the predawn hours, waking the whole camp. Apparently they did not get the message that the morning’s quail and chukar hunt would not start until mid-morning when the frost wore away.
Breakfast in the dining hall was eggs, sausage, and biscuits. We all devoured the delicious breakfast and then geared up for the shoot. Josh Sill met all the boys outside and then went through the safety procedures of an upland hunt. This, he said, could be one of the most dangerous kinds of hunts, so teaching the rules of safety and simulating a hunt with the boys was one of the steps to ensure a great and safe morning. The boys learned and the dads nodded approval. The guides pulled up and we took off.
Patrick Gill was our guide and we started walking a field with Gordy, a Brittany Spaniel. Gordy got birdy right away and Gill talked us through the steps he wanted us all to take to get a good shot and make sure that our party of hunters were all safe. Gordy nudged closer and with a stomp of our guide’s foot, a drake pheasant erupted from the brush and took off in to the wind. With a report from the Remington 1187, the rooster fell quick and dead. The hunt was on.
Steve Lanza and his son were in our group for this hunt. The dads held a gun at the ready on the right flank as backup to the boys. Our help was not needed very often. The boys took to wing shooting like they did riding a bike not too many years before. After a few misses they started to pick it up and soon looked like veterans.
Gill, in his mid-twenties, was a superb guide. He laughed and joked with the boys, told stories in between shots, ran Gordy and made everyone feel special. He was a role model and teacher for the boys and he put us in some great action on the field.
About midway through the hunt, Gill gave Gordy a break and pulled out Ranger, a German short-haired pointer, and Layla, an English setter, to close out the hunt. We had flushed some birds that had stretched the hunting field some and rangier dogs were needed to lock on to the strays so we could finish the hunt. Ranger took to the field and covered a lot of ground fast. Layla worked hard too, if not a little slower and maybe a little more thorough. But Ranger found bird scent and went from a full run to a locked point. Gill screamed out a “WHOA!” and Layla abruptly stopped where she was and honored Ranger’s point. We worked our way to the pointing statue of a dog and flushed a chukar. Down it fell after another great shot by our boys. The dogs took off to find more.
Our hunt and stay at Dry Creek Ranch was a great experience. The lodging is top notch and the bird hunting is the kind that keeps you dreaming of coveys and bird dogs on point. The boys and dads told stories for days, and those stories will likely be told for years and be a part of history like the pictures on the walls of Dry Creek. Great memories were made on that father-son hunt at a great establishment in Southwest Louisiana. We all look forward to returning again next year.
Read and join the discussion on A Father-son Hunt at Louisiana’s Dry Creek Ranch at OutdoorHub.com.
February 8, 2013
The eye contact with the frantic gray squirrel seemed frozen in time. The squirrel had been knocked from his perch in a scaly bark hickory by one of the youths participating in the 16th annual Barbour County WMA Youth Hunt last weekend. The bushy-tailed critter was looking for cover when he latched onto the side of a lay-down, a tree that had succumbed to some wind storm in the not-too-distant past.
Armed with only a camera and dressed in a camouflage shirt, I stood on the opposite side of the log, well within leaping distance. That moment of eye contact led to a flood of possibilities in my brain as Ray Stevens cranked up “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” in the background. Option 1: The squirrel is going to mistake my camouflage for an escape route in a scene reminiscent of “A Christmas Vacation.” Had it leaped in my direction, I’m sure I would have done my best Clark Griswold impression, the one where he knocks his mother onto the couch as he flees up the stairs.
Alas, I caught a break and the squirrel took Option 2 and scurried under the log and into a hole that was at the base of the uprooted tree.
Mike Smith, whose Feist dog “Freeway” led the hunt, figured the hunt was over, but this group of about 20 youths and accompanying parents and hosts was persistent on a day when squirrels were scarce. One person volunteered to don a glove and reach into the hole to find the squirrel, but his search came up empty-handed. A second tried to no avail.
That’s when Cody Lee, a long and lanky teenager, reached his gloved hand into the hole. Seconds later, he screamed, “There he is,” and in the same breath slung glove, squirrel and a handful of leaves out into the middle of the group that crowded around the root ball.
“The squirrel was hanging on the ceiling of the hole,” Lee said. “When I touched him, he grabbed my arm, so I had to come outta there with him.”
The youngsters swarmed the squirrel in a flash. By the time I got to the middle of the crowd, the squirrel had apparently given up the ghost after realizing escape was impossible.
The youngsters celebrated success as the adults in the crowd shook their heads laughingly at such a spectacle in the middle of one of Alabama’s most popular Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
Freeway managed to tree one more squirrel that was reduced to bag before the afternoon hunt ended and it was time to meet back at the WMA headquarters for another round of hot dogs and chips, which preceded the final event of the day of outdoors activities – a coon hunt.
The Eufaula Lions Club, Barbour County Coon Hunters Association and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division are the major sponsors of the youth hunt, which attracts youngsters and parents from mainly east Alabama, although some participants hail from other parts of the state.
The youth hunt idea was hatched when Mike Heath and Richard Reed, game wardens at the time, starting trying to find a way to get the younger generation involved in the outdoors. They recruited Roger and Pat Kott from Eufaula and the event quickly went from a handful of kids to a huge production that requires a concerted effort from the community in terms of volunteers and donations.
“We started with 17 kids,” Pat Kott said. “We try to go deeper into different events and different venues each year, and it’s just blossomed from there. We wanted to get the kids outdoors to teach them gun safety and teach them what’s in the woods and how to conserve our woods. The word just spread. We have fliers and sponsors, but it basically spread by word of mouth. We’ll normally have between 250-300 kids now.”
The activities for the kids include BB-gun competition, slingshot shoot, archery, turkey calling and turkey shoot, compass reading, wilderness survival, skeet shooting with gun safety, .22-caliber rifle shooting for the older youngsters, squirrel hunting, rabbit hunting and coon hunting.
“The kids love it and can hardly wait to get here,” Pat said. “It’s great to see their eyes when they’re doing the different things, and when they’re squirrel hunting, if they get one, they’ll take the squirrel around with them the rest of the day and take it to momma that night. It’s just wonderful.”
Reed said the youth hunt team has had to adjust the activities through the years, especially after an incident during the coon hunt the second year.
“We had the coon hunt and we had kids jumping into the creek with the coon and dogs,” Reed laughed. “So we had to alter that a little bit. We stage it a little bit for safety purposes.”
Reed said before he retired in 2007, he could see a decrease in the number of hunting licenses sold, which caused him great concern.
“When we saw those numbers slipping, we decided we needed to do something to get the kids involved again,” he said. “We’ll have 250-300 kids unless the weather is really bad. And the community is really behind it. All the merchants donate and help every way they can.”
Grady Hartzog, a Eufaula businessman and member of the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board, joined Deputy Conservation Commissioner Curtis Jones and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Director Chuck Sykes to witness the celebration of the outdoors lifestyle.
“I always believe that if we don’t have the kids coming to support conservation, we’re not doing our jobs,” Hartzog said. “The more we can do for the kids, the better off we are. We want this to be a good, fun outing for the family and kids so they’ll want to come back out again.”
Sykes, who became WFF director just two months ago, is encouraged by what he saw at the Barbour County WMA.
“You’ve got parents and kids out here having fun and picnicking, shooting BB guns, going on a rabbit hunt, a squirrel hunt and a coon hunt,” Sykes said. “If you don’t get the kids engaged, get them out from in front of a TV or video game and into the woods, we’re going to lose our connection to the outdoors. Kids aren’t growing up like I did with a BB gun and pocket full of BBs; you walked all day and explored the woods.
“This is great. I applaud everybody here for getting involved, and I applaud the parents for getting out on a beautiful Saturday and exposing their kids to the great outdoors.”
Jones said he was impressed by how well the community supports the event each year with the encouragement of the Eufaula Lions Club and the Kott family.
“There is a ton of volunteers, and I’m proud that we’ve got several, several Conservation Enforcement Officers who are volunteering to take these kids through the various courses with BB guns, archery, and skeet,” Jones said. “I’m just really grateful that this many people get involved to get the youth into the outdoors.”
Heath said there are enough volunteers that parents aren’t required to stay for the event.
“The parents can drop their kids off and we’ll take care of them until 9 o’clock that night until we’re completely done,” Heath said. “Then they can come back and pick them up. We encourage all parents to come and go with the kids if at all possible. But if they can’t, we have numbers of volunteers who will serve as mentors.
“We have a great time. I can’t tell you how many thousands of kids this has touched. We’ve had some kids come back every year, and it’s great to see these kids grow up in the outdoors.”
Read and join the discussion on Success at Alabama’s Barbour County Youth Hunt at OutdoorHub.com.
February 6, 2013
At the age of 16, Colt Brake was a stud on the football field at Rocky Mount Academy High School in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. At 18, he was a quadriplegic fighting to get back to a “normal” life—a life filled, once again, with hunting and enjoying the outdoors. That’s where Tammy Koenig stepped in, after two years of physical and occupational therapy for Colt.
Tammy is a professional hunter. She has appeared for the last 15 years on a variety of television shows. Her own show with her daughter Brittany, Leading Ladies Outdoors, now in its second year, highlights bow hunts across the Midwest. Tammy made plans to get Colt Brake afield as her special guest hunter.
The destination was Legends Ranch in Bitely, Michigan; made possible by many caring people including Quest Ministries and guide Colby Bettis, the manager of Legends Ranch. Colt would use a uniquely crafted blow-tube trigger and iPhone crosshairs for his rifle, donated from Be Adaptive Equipment. Colt was excited to be afield. And he shot an awesome buck. It was an amazing day, but that is not where the story ends.
Tammy films all of her hunts with three different cameras. All high-definition quality, yes, but some of the cameras are more robust and state-of-the-art than others. Yet all three cameras play a role in producing her television shows. The smaller GoPro camera, Tammy’s third-tier rig, usually provides only B-roll elements. Maybe, in the course of a hunt, the show would use one or two images. Mysteriously, in a way that she can’t explain, that little camera became the most important camera of the day.
One night after the hunt, with the film from the other two cameras already off to the producers for a future show to air months later, Tammy awoke with a start in the wee hours of the morning.
“Boing. I was wide awake,” Tammy said as she gestured of eyes popping wide open. “It was an instant awake, and it came with a message: put together a little video for Colt.”
The video Tammy made is embedded below. Read on past the video for the stunning story of its production.
Tammy dutifully got up at 2:00 a.m. and started work on pulling the video file from the GoPro camera to DVD for Colt. Unfortunately, it was too large of a file. Wide awake, she decided to load the file into Movie Maker—simple software available to just about any of us with Microsoft Windows. She chopped and edited, chopped and edited. Soon she had a four-minute-plus mini-show complete with Colt getting off the bus, his arrival at Legends Ranch, siting in his new adaptive equipment, getting into position for the hunt, and of course—the successful conclusion. The story shows a happy young man. Challenged? Yes. Moving on and making life great in the midst of all the challenges? Yes, indeed.
Amazing, all of those pieces were captured on Tammy’s little GoPro camera. That doesn’t usually happen.
At 3:30 a.m. Tammy was still wide awake. She added text to the movie. While the file was rendering she decided to add music. Her first thought was a Jason Castro song, but as she inserted it, somehow a different song played—not the one she thought she selected.
“It was Laura Story’s song ‘Blessing’ that I actually grabbed,” Tammy recalled. “As I listened to the words with the video rolling, I realized that ‘Blessing’ was the perfect song.”
As the music wove intricately through the video, Tammy watched and listened in the dark of her studio at four o’clock in the morning. She watched Colt, a handsome young man with a wonderful outlook on his situation, and listened to the words of this accidental pairing. She couldn’t help herself, she was bawling as the images and music came together. As the last second of video appeared, so too the last note of the music ended. The song and the video segments were exactly the same length—to the second.
Tammy pulled herself together, uploaded the video to YouTube and posted it on Facebook for Colt. Friends and family watched it, offered congratulations to Colt for a successful hunt, shared their love and encouragement for the young man he was—inside and out—and his journey.
A few hours later Colt replied to all the greetings on Facebook.
“Thank you everybody. It was exactly two years ago today since I broke my neck. I needed this.”
K.J. Houtman is author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for 8-12 year olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.
Read and join the discussion on The Morning a Video Told a Story at OutdoorHub.com.
September 7, 2012
The Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) is sponsoring two mentored youth hunts in the Upper Snake Region this year. They will consist of one waterfowl and one pheasant hunt. The waterfowl hunt will take place on Saturday, September 29th, at the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The pheasant hunt will occur on Saturday, October 6th at the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located North of Roberts, Idaho. According to Regional Volunteer Coordinator James Brower who is organizing the outings, “Both events are meant to provide opportunities for first time youth hunters between the ages of 10 and 15 that do not have a mentor to take them hunting.” IDFG will provide mentors and all the equipment required for the hunt, including firearms and waders. Youth will be required to purchase a youth hunting license before the hunt. “This means that they will need to have already completed a hunter education course previously.” said Brower. Waterfowl hunters are also required to buy a migratory bird permit in advance, but a Federal Waterfowl Stamp is not required for youth under 16.
According to Brower, “Participating youth must have transportation to and from the hunting area, but some accommodations may be arranged. We plan on having two time slots available for each event.” Both will have a morning hunt from approximately 7:30am-12:00pm and an afternoon hunt from 12:30-5:00pm, with lunch provided to all participants. The pheasant day will begin with a clay pigeon shoot to improve accuracy and evaluate competency. At both events anyone that demonstrates unsafe behavior will immediately be excused from participation. Parents are welcome to attend, but not required.
“This will be a great opportunity to get youth out in the field with an experienced guide. We plan on having tons of fun and making lifelong memories.” said Brower. If you are interested in this event or know a youth that would be, complete an application at the IDFG office located on 4279 Commerce Circle in Idaho Falls. Space is limited and walk ins will not be accepted. Applications must be turned in by September 25th.
For questions contact James Brower at (208) 525-7290 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing Idaho’s hunting heritage.
Read and join the discussion on Idaho DFG to Sponsor Pheasant and Waterfowl Hunt for Youths Lacking a Mentor at OutdoorHub.com.
August 29, 2012
When Kristy Santucci and Pat Kittle set out to create a pre-season waterfowl event for the small farm town of Colusa, California, they wanted something a little different from the norm. What they have put together in the last year was nothing short of that.
As we left the high desert of northern Nevada for the green rolling hills of northern California, my ears were bleeding from the hours of duck calling coming from the backseat. My 13-year-old daughter Hannah and one of The Birdmen’s newest recruits, Karen, had been ramping up for this day for the last two months. We knew Kristy had been working vigorously on this event but as we rolled up in front of the Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport Co., it was much bigger than any of us had anticipated.
The Kittle’s store was on one side and a beautiful city park filled with a calling stage, shaded seating for spectators, trees and vendors with all of the latest and greatest gear was on the other. As the morning progressed people filled the park in anticipation of the California State Duck Calling Contest amidst the juniors, intermediate, speck and Canada goose contests as well. The contest went off without a hitch with one of the greatest MCs on board was Reg Bravo, from Ducks Unlimited.
Hannah finished with a great routine in fourth place, Karen got some tips on competition calling and everyone that showed for the event was happy to see what Kittle’s had done this year. Pat Kittle, the owner, had raised the cash pot with his own money to help get the winner of the state competition to Arkansas to compete in the world competition. After the calling event, the Steelhead Lodge situated on the banks of the beautiful Sacramento River hosted a party along with Jack Daniels providing drinks, prime rib and a wonderful band that played long into the night. This was the nicest, well planned out calling event the team had ever been to and thanks to Kristy and Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport Co. and it will be even bigger next year. Don’t miss it!
June 25, 2012
Do you remember the first gun you ever fired? I remember my dad’s .22. I still have it, but it seems that it was a different gun then. At that time, it was very long and very heavy. I still remember that it felt very dense and heavy, the way a heavy target rifle feels to an adult who has never handled one.
I remember firing a shotgun for the first time, too. It was a 16 gauge single shot that weighed about 5 pounds. I thought the recoil was brutal. I was concerned with recoil and as a result, the first shotgun I bought was a seven pound 20 gauge gas operated semi-auto.
In those days there weren’t very many guns designed for small people. The first ones I recall were H&R Topper single shots in 20 and .410 gauges with short stocks and short barrels. It was probably 1980 before the major manufacturers started making pumps and semi-autos for small people. I keep saying small people because most women need shortened guns as much as young people.
Now we have youth .22s, youth shotguns and youth deer rifles. Some of these guns cost over a thousand dollars. We have come a long way from the $29.97 .410 full choke single shot. These new guns don’t just cost more; they provide a young shooter with a gun that will allow them to really learn how to shoot without handicaps.
Shotguns probably are the biggest chunk of this market. While that single shot .410 was OK for squirrels and the occasional rabbit, it was hardly a tool for learning the principals of wing-shooting. A .410 is the gauge for advanced shot-gunners, not novices. The ballistics of the .410 are unforgiving when firing at moving targets. Since the weight of the gun and the recoil of a 12 are too much for smaller people, the 20 gauge is the logical choice. The 20 gives a trade off of the size of the shot charge against its lighter weight. The 20 gauge can be pretty versatile, with a lot of loads available that allow it to do most of what shotguns are required to do.
For practical purposes the only guns worth serious consideration are pumps and semi-autos, since the single shots are too light to soak up the recoil and quality ones are close in price to the pumps. Young shooters also need the option of matching the choke to the application, an option only afforded with the pumps and autos with screw in chokes. If you take money out of the equation, the semi autos are the easy winner. Their weight is close to the pumps, but they have the added advantage of gas operation in most models. Gas operation spreads recoil out over a longer time period and makes the gun much more comfortable for the shooter.
If money is a major issue, the pumps look best. Youth model pumps in the three major brands often sell for less than $250.00. This is around half the price of the semi autos. If you do choose a pump, consider replacing the recoil pad. The ones that come on the guns are pretty hard and not nearly a effective as a Pachmayer or other name brand pad. The pumps do have the advantage of slightly lighter weight and being able to function on super light “trainer” shells.
Light weight is a big issue. For a small person to handle a gun and shoot moving targets, it must be light enough for them to move comfortably. Keep the ratio of gun weight to shooter weight in mind. A 6 pound gun in the hands of someone that weighs 90 pounds feels like a 12 pound gun in the hands of someone that weighs 180 pounds. Extra weight in the butt on the gun does not have so much effect, but on the muzzle, it makes swinging the gun very difficult.
In the rifle category the choices are simpler. Most of the youth guns are simple shortened versions of their adult counterparts. They are offered in low recoil calibers. I think the single shots, like the Thompson Center guns, are a valid choice for youth rifles. The extra recoil is not as much of a factor, since there is not as much repetitive shooting as with shotgun, so the light weight is not a liability.
Rifle or shotgun, regardless of type, make sure the gun is comfortable to shoot. The pain of excessive recoil can create bad habits that take years to reverse, or even worse, can turn a kid against shooting altogether.
While the concept of youth guns is fairly new, the need has always been there. We are fortunate to have so many to choose from. I have a 10 year old friend who shoots sporting clays. He is the son of my business partner, Billy Lagle. Trey shoots a 391 Berreta and does very well on doves, ducks and other game. He breaks around 35% on sporting clays and is deadly on simpler shots. Having the right gun makes all the difference.
May 30, 2012
Author’s note: October 2011. In Illinois 32 kids and in Tennessee 172 kids hunted with guides and were set up for the most part on private land that had been donated for Kids Hunting for a Cure to use. In addition, many individuals and organizations donated videographers to capture these priceless moments. Before this I had given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, but had never considered it one of my top charities. I looked at it as a huge conglomerate, but have since discovered how much St. Jude’s does for kids and their families. Although just one family is mentioned here, we met many other children who have been through treatments or are currently in treatment for cancer. Their spirits were amazing and touching.
In early October we went to Allendale, Illinois to participate in the Kids Hunting For A Cure (KHFAC) event. KHFAC is a non-profit organization which provides financial support to research hospitals and foundations like St. Jude’s, which are dedicated to developing cures for cancer and catastrophic childhood diseases. Funds are raised by children and adults through community-sponsored outdoor events designed for youth. Often, these hunts provide the only opportunity that many of these kids will ever have to fulfill their dream of harvesting a deer.
Prior to the event a friend had introduced me to Dave Norval, founder of KHFAC. Super Dave shared his goals in creating KHFAC: to expose kids to God’s great outdoors, help kids see that their disabilities don’t need to confine them and in the process raise money and awareness about childhood cancer and other life threatening diseases.
We knew prior to going to the Allendale hunt that we would be paired with St. Jude’s poster child, 10-year-old Benjamin Sherman. In 2008, Ben, from Jonesboro, Arkansas was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia, which is not the most common form of leukemia. Ben spent five months living in Memphis at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and then spent the next two years traveling back and forth from his home to the hospital for weekly IV chemotherapy, bone marrow tests, spinal taps and other necessary treatments. Even before meeting Ben I felt privileged to be asked to participate in such a worthwhile cause…meeting so many children, many with life threatening diseases, but their joy and enthusiasm at the opportunity to hunt was contagious. Ben, who is a triplet, came to the hunt with his brother Brooks and mother Jackie.
On Saturday morning, sitting in a pop-up blind on the edge of a soybean field, we waited and waited, but did not see one deer. During that time, I used the opportunity to film Ben talking about his experience and St. Jude’s. He is a very smart young man who remembers everything to the date. Never once did Ben have anything negative to say. Even after all he had been through you could not make him say one bad thing about St. Jude’s or anyone at St. Jude’s. Until he became sick, Ben was an active child who loved anything outdoors. Ben’s love of hunting was further developed while at St. Jude’s. His mother explained that being confined to a hospital bed and taking so many drugs made Ben sick and weak. Since he couldn’t get outdoors, Ben would spend hours watching the hunting shows on TV and say I’d like to do that someday.
Ben and I went back out Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Before daylight on Sunday we did spot a deer, but never really got to see it. I knew that Ben was disappointed; he had been looking forward to this hunt. His brother Brooks did kill a coyote on Sunday morning. I had hoped that both Ben and Brooks would get the opportunity to kill a deer. Prior to KHFAC, Ben’s neighbor had taken him hunting and he had killed a spike horn. From that experience, fueled by all the hunting shows, Ben was hooked. But Brooks had never gotten to shoot a deer before. Neither of their parents hunt, but are committed to finding opportunities for the boys to follow their passion of hunting.
A few weeks after the Illinois KHFAC event, another hunt was going to be held in Fayetteville, Tennessee. I talked to Ben’s mother about a week before the event and she said Ben was very discouraged because he had not seen a deer in Illinois. A few days later one of the local guides for the Tennessee hunt called to tell me he had been out to the property where Ben and I would be set up. He had seen 6 bucks that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to call Ben and relay the information to him. Everyone felt that there was a 99.99% chance that Ben would get his deer. I asked Ben if he was ready to go and he said, “definitely.”
En route to the Tennessee hunt, the landowner, Hue, called and said he wanted to take us out to the property as soon as we dropped our stuff at the lodge (which was exceptional). Hue is a gracious gentleman who only lets the St. Jude’s kids hunt on his property. When we pulled into the property with him we immediately saw three does on our left and two really nice bucks eating acorns to the right. I recorded video of the bucks to show Ben and Brooks, to encourage them when we met up later.
Later that afternoon I took both Ben and Brooks out to the property for a sneak peek. On and near the property we saw about 21 deer total, many of them nice bucks. Needless to say, the boys were now pumped for this hunt.
Early Saturday morning Ben, Brooks, another guide (country musician CJ Garton) and I loaded up and headed out. Our “blind” was a small equipment lean-to that had been set up with a camo tarp for us. We had talked to the boys about waiting for “the” buck, but the first deer to come out was a doe. We had told them that the decision to shoot or wait would be theirs. I asked Ben what he wanted to do and he “definitely” wanted this doe. We eased Ben into position and when he pulled the trigger the deer hunched and back kicked and ran out of sight. I looked at the footage and it looked to be a good hit, so now it was Brooks’ turn. It didn’t take but about 30 minutes when 4 does came down the hill to the left. They were about 50 yards away. We got Brooks settled in for the shot. He made a couple of shots and downed his doe. One doe for each boy – they were elated. After finding the does and taking pictures we went back to the hunt headquarters. We were one of the first groups to check in with the game warden, but soon there was a line of trucks stretching through the fairgrounds out toward the gate waiting to check in. There were some nice 10 pt, 8 pts, 6 pts, etc., along with a lot of does killed that morning. It was a site you really had to see. The smiling faces of the kids said it all that morning.
Because Ben was discouraged from the Illinois hunt, he had originally wanted to come, hunt in the morning, then leave. However, the morning experience had definitely changed his mind. Ben and Brooks couldn’t wait to get back out that afternoon – they had bucks in their sights. That afternoon we were joined by a local businessman, Steve, who knew the property and just wanted to be there to watch the hunt unfold. He was under a piece of brown burlap to our left side, the four of us still under our camo “blind.” Steve could see further to the right than we could and we hadn’t been in the blind long when Steve said there was a respectable 8 pt coming in. We asked Ben if he wanted to shoot it or wait, being the young man he is he definitely wanted to kill it. At 80 yards the buck was standing broadside, when Ben pulled the trigger. At the sound of the gun the buck hit the ground, jumped up, he was still able to stand, but I was sure Ben had made a fatal shot. Ben got nervous, so his next two shots were high, we told him to breathe, settle down, shoot lower, and pull the trigger. One shot later equaled one downed 8 pt and one very happy boy.
We knew the buck was down, so we set up for Brook’s shot. Soon a spike, a small 6 pt and couple of 8 pts came through the trees, but we didn’t want to chance a shot. Soon an 8 pt came down. Although there was a spike standing to the right, slightly in front of him, he was broadside at 80 yards so we got Brooks set. Steve said there was a much larger buck coming out of the woods, so we asked Brooks what he wanted to do. Brooks immediately answered take the shot, “I want that one.” At the sound of the .243, the buck hit the ground. He was broke down but still trying to get up. We hurriedly took Brooks to about 10 yards to finish off his 8 pt.
A doe each in the morning, an 8 pt buck each in the evening was more than I had imagined or hoped for Ben and Brooks. One thing I know for sure was that God was there with us every minute. I captured the successful hunts of two very happy boys on video that day.
I can’t encourage hunters enough to take your kids or someone else’s kids hunting, or volunteer your time for a youth hunt. You will receive more blessings than you can ever imagine.
It’s true that kids say and do the funniest things and that last afternoon in Tennessee was no exception. Ben and Brooks never argued over who had the biggest doe or buck. However, they did argue that day about which buck had the biggest set.
Getting kids in the great outdoors is such a worthwhile endeavor. If you loved hunting before, the joy and enthusiasm these kids show will definitely be reward enough in its self. I received such a blessing from their resilient spirits. I can’t thank KHFAC enough for letting us be involved and giving us the opportunity to spend time with the Shermans. Their story is a tribute to the good work that St. Jude’s is doing to prevent, cure, and treat childhood cancer and catastrophic diseases.
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