Minn. program encourages responsible youth hunters

Worthington, Minn. (AP) – After what seemed like a month of
cold, rainy weather, Mother Nature cooperated recently and allowed
a select group of pheasant hunters to attend the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources/Minnesota Pheasants Forever Youth
Mentor Hunt.

This is the second year of the combined venture, according to
Nobles County Pheasants Forever president Scott Rall.

“Last year, they took over 300 kids hunting (in the state), most
of them for the first time,” Rall stated.

Sponsored by the DNR in coordination with Pheasants Forever,
kids had to apply for the hunt by mid-August, and write down their
first and second choices of counties where they would like to
hunt.

“Each child is accompanied by a parent and a mentor hunter,”
Rall said. “They learn about sportsmanship, landowner relations,
dog handling – pretty much all aspects of ethical hunting.”

The Nobles County chapter took five kids hunting this year. One,
Patrick Burns, was from Worthington. He brought along his father
Scott Burns. Derek Hunwardsen brought his father Ross from
Fairmont. Cory Brouse of Andover brought his three sons – twins
Jacob and Josh, and older son Ryan. They also brought their hunting
dog, Dakota.

Each of the youth hunters had already been through gun safety
training, which was a requirement on the application. The five
young hunters each had a little experience hunting, but were
excited to hunt Nobles County.

Cory said his boys had been hunting several times, but he liked
the idea of the youth hunt.

“It gives them a good chance to learn from someone besides me,”
he explained.

Scott Burns said Patrick was the one who learned about the youth
mentor hunt.

“He had always wanted to try hunting, so he took gun safety last
spring,” Scott said. “He saw an ad for the youth hunt in the paper
and printed and filled out the forms.”

During a noon break, all of the hunters – youth, mentors and
parents – gathered at the Worthington Gun Club for a lunch provided
by Pizza Ranch, which is a national sponsor. They had breakfasted
earlier courtesy of Hy-Vee and Burger King.

As they munched pizza, the hunters compared notes from their
morning session, describing wildlife they had encountered, hen
sightings, past hunting trips and wet socks.

“This is a really good time,” said mentor hunter Les Johnson.
“It’s all about taking the kids hunting and giving them the
experience.”

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