Too dry for a South Dakota waterfowl hunt? No worries – youth pheasant hunt saves the day
PIERRE, S.D. — A big, red blur shot straight into the sky above the narrow strip of corn he’d been eating an early lunch in.
He veered right following a slight breeze, hoping, no doubt, that the wind would speed his escape. It did but he wasn’t fast enough to escape the flurry of lead a trio of young pheasant hunters sent his way. Feathers flew and the ringneck pheasant fell from the sky.
It would be the first bird of a few dozen that 19 kids from the Pierre and Fort Pierre area would shoot on the Steffen Brothers Ranch on Dec. 9. They’d been given the chance to hunt the ranch thanks to the Fowled Up chapter of conservation organization Delta Waterfowl, which was holding its second youth pheasant hunt on the ranch.
Delta Waterfowl, as the name suggests, is an organization dedicated to duck and goose conservation. As such, until 2016, the Fowled Up chapter had organized an annual youth duck hunt during South Dakota’s youth duck season in September.
Getting youngsters involved in hunting is big part of what the Fowled Up chapter does. To that end they sponsor youth shooting sports teams in the area and several shooting events in addition to the youth hunt.
Dry conditions in central South Dakota over the last few years, however, forced the usually duck minded organization’s members to look for a different opportunity last year, the Pierre Capital Journal reported.
“There’s just not enough water around,” said Willie Gloe chairman of the Fowled Up chapter.
As luck would have it, many of the Fowled Up chapter’s members work part-time as guides at area pheasant hunting operations. Dave, Larry and Ernie Steffen offered up a few hours on a Saturday in December for a youth pheasant hunt in 2016. Cheyenne Ridge and Northstream Outfitters loaned a few busses and other items to the hunt as well.
That first hunt was a cold, blustery affair but it worked out pretty well nonetheless, Gloe said. This year’s hunt was an altogether different experience. There was little wind, the sky was blue and the sun was bright. Morning temperatures were a little cool, which only served to keep the hunters from sweating from all the walking.
The hunters, ranging in age from 12 to 17, were split into three groups, each of which was given different areas of the ranch to hunt before coming together and surrounding a slough for what everyone hoped would be a final bonanza of birds.
Gloe’s group was able to walk three corn strips, from which they flushed sever dozen roosters, many of whom fell to the keen eyed youngsters carrying all the guns. The last walk, the one through the slough, turned out to be a bust. Two hens and one rooster were the only birds to flush.
Still, the hunt was an unqualified success.
“It’s amazing how happy these kids got from the time we left to when we got back,” said Terry Fauth, who helped guide the young hunters.