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Through the Lens

Kids and Quail!

Thu, November 11, 2010

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect if it had been special ordered. A crisp layer of frost had settled onto the well managed and well maintained property of Dan Hecht,  Quail Forever member and one of the many sponsors of the annual youth hunt. The sun warmed up the field quickly and the nearly 50 youth who attend were anxiously milling around enjoying each others company while they had a nice breakfast provided by the group. The youth were chattering away in wide eyed excitement as they pondered whether or not they would leave the field in a vest with bird in it. Those who had hunted before regaled the newcomers with stories about previous hunts, enjoying the status of being experienced hunters despite their young ages.  I was thankful that Scott Huschle of DownRiver Outdoors had invited me to tag along with him and his son Zachary for the day.  When I’m at the youth hunts and events, it’s as if I am experiencing it all for the first time myself as I watch it through the young folks eyes and listen to the excited conversations.

Following registration and breakfast, the youth were treated to basic gun safety, field safety and shooting lessons using clay birds. The volunteers and sponsors were scattered throughout the property, all with one goal in mind - to insure that each and every youth had a positive upland bird hunting experience.  Following the practice shooting, the youth had a brief pre hunt meeting with several of the sponsors and volunteers taking the time to explain exactly how the hunt would work, the importance of gun safety in the field, and the importance of working and hunting safely with dogs afield.

Event Organizer, Host and Sponsor Dan Hecht, said that at the first hunt 4 years ago, the group introduced 20 youth to the sport of upland bird hunting and the need for strong conservation efforts,  “By this year we were up to 50 participants!” Hecht smiled broadly. He became thoughtful when he added, ” We did have to scratch a few kids though, they had not completed their hunter safety course, and we require that to be a participant. ”

Safety and conservation were constant topics of conversation while in the field. The youth received informal lessons in habitat, habitat management, and safely hunting over dogs as they walked the fields with the volunteer dog handlers and sponsors.

Once afield, the youth had the opportunity watch some of best bird dogs in Illinois work the fields and ehlp the to harvest both quail and pheasant.  Following their hunt afield the youth were treated to a visit with Chief AJ; designer of the HFX slingshot who gave the youth lessons in slingshot use and hunting with a sling shot.

By the time the tired, hungry, and succesful hunters trudged to the hall for lunch, each had better grasp of why quail and all upland game mangagement and habitat conservation is vitally important, they had seen first hand how proper habitat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     combined with a well trained dog, and the right conditions can net a vest full of birds.  I have to wonder if perhaps more than one of these will someday be a volunteer leading a young person on thier first quail hunt, or better yet, become a biologist, conservationalist, or Quail Forever staff member. We never know when we take the time to introduce a young person to the outdoors just how the seed we plant will grow, but we do know it will grow !!


What it’s all about! Participant Zachary Huschle with his father Scott Huschle of Downriver Outdoors Proudly displays his first success as an upland bird hunter

 

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Missouri Elk

Mon, November 08, 2010

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house we go - well in this case it was Grandmother who was traveling over the river and through the woods to do a little visiting with my niece who resides in Missouri. We’d had a conversation earlier in the week about Missouri reintroducing elk into the wild in the Mark Twain National Forest,  and my niece suggested since I had “elk on the brain” we make a trip to Lone Elk Park to see if the elk were starting to hit rut yet. We weren’t able to catch any of the big boys sparring, or even out of the deep timber for that matter, but we were still able to view and photograph a few who were out stirring around.

Lone Elk Park is great place to view not only elk, but bison, whitetail deer, turkeys and a large assortment of wildlife. The perimeter of the 405 acre park is fenced, however it’s considered a wildlife management area and the bison and elk are roaming free within the park boundries and are considered a managed wild population.

The park has been designed with excellent drive through areas, with conveniently located pull offs for viewing the wildlife as well as hiking trails for those wishing a more up close view.  It should be noted though, no foot travel is allowed within the “Bison Area” due to the unpredictable nature of the bison,  and plenty of warning signs are present to warn visitors of the dangers present with the elk, especially during mating and calving season.

I can personally attest to the unpredictability of the elk. Last year while hiking there I failed to see a calf resting in a draw, as I topped the edge of the draw to make a descent into it - an old cow came charging at me stopping about a foot in front of me, blowing, snorting and stomping.  Heart stopping moment! Although I think it was actually only about a 15 minute stand off, with me stepping back from her one very very slow step at a time it seemed like it lasted hours being nose to nose with that mad old mama.

Keeping the unpredictability of the wildlife in mind, it is still a wonderful place to visit for wildlife viewing and photography.  An added bonus is the World Bird Sanctuary that is immediately adjacent to the park.  For anyone making a trip to the St. Louis area, especially when travelling to Bass Pro and Cabela’s - a great way to round out the trip is a drive through Lone Elk.  Even better , schedule enough time for a short hike, and a visit to the World Bird Sanctuary and have a picnic lunch in one of the nicely maintained shelters there.


 

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Reaching Out to the Ladies

Wed, November 03, 2010

I can’t even begin to tell you how many press releases end up in my in box on regular day.. not too many of them actually end up making the cut and not going directly to the trash bin, but there’s always a few that catch my eye and really want to make me jump for joy, call the contact person, go further.. this one from the Outdoor Wire service this morning was one of those.

Courtesy of the Outdoor Wire:
Women Hunter Garb & Gear Section New Focus at Expos
A new ‘Garb & Gear’ section of women’s hunting apparel and related hunting products (hunting clothing, thermal clothing, firearms, bows, gloves, boots and accessories) designed for female hunters’ physical needs will be an exhibit floor highlight at the 2011 deer and turkey hunting expos produced by Target Communications in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. Female hunters are the only growing segment of the hunting community. Manufacturers are paying attention with new products designed for the female form and preferences.

“We have emphasized family participation for years. Now we’re stepping up our efforts with this new focused area to better serve the female segment of our audience,” said Glenn Helgeland, president of Target Communications. “Nearly 25 percent of our expo attendees, year after year, are female, and they are outdoor participants.”

“Women want to have clothes designed for them, and that are warm and comfortable. They need hunting boots that are warm, light and strong. They want gloves designed for the female hand. Women don’t see any particular need to suffer while they are deer hunting, unlike men,” Helgeland noted. “Men tend to think you need an icicle hanging from your nose to know you’re enjoying your hunt.

“Women usually need rifles of lighter mass weight, shorter stocks and smaller calibers with less recoil, and bows with shorter draw lengths and lighter draw weights so they can handle the equipment confidently, skillfully and without fear.”

“Expos are a perfect fit for this specialized product category, because it is 100% hands-on, try-before-you-buy,” Helgeland added. “Things either fit or they don’t. The customer needs to know that; women demand fit, quality, price.

“We tell manufacturers, ‘Here’s where your product becomes real, where the rubber meets the road’,” Helgeland said. “They and attendees benefit from this contact. It’s personal, live and in color, offering instant question-answering opportunities and instant feedback. The product can be examined and tried on; the manufacturer can explain and show the product’s benefits. Purchases can be made. It should be a win-win.”

There will be nearly a dozen designated booths for women’s hunting clothing manufacturers at each expo; each clothing booth will have its own fitting room for privacy and security. Exhibitors with related products and accessories, and related women’s hunting organizations, will be located near the clothing center for maximum availability and visibility.

The WOMAN HUNTER magazine Women’s Information Center will anchor this area with topical information handouts, a hunting quiz and lists of women’s hunting information and equipment sources.

Noted outdoor writer and firearms expert Ron Spomer will present a seminar—“The Shocking Truth About Women and Firearms”—to clear up mispercptions and counter the poor advice female hunters often get from male advisors. “Women don’t need and don’t want cannons,’ he says, “and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

The 2011 event dates:

• February 18-20 Michigan Deer & Turkey Spectacular (25th), Lansing, MI

• March 18-20 Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo (19th), Columbus, OH

• March 25-27 Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic (21st), Peoria, IL

• April 1-3 Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo (27th), Madison, WI

Other new activities at the expo: Puppies & Kids Sunday, Firearms Answer Man and Turkey Answer Man added to the Tech Info Center (to complement firearms, archery, slug guns, clothing/footwear and food plots topics), DVD Theater, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance raffles, sweepstakes and Sentry program, and Tradeshow Sunday with sporting goods dealers as special guests.

For attending and/or exhibiting details on the deer and turkey expos, visit the events’ web-site—http://www.deerinfo.com—and click on the state event of interest, or call 1-800-324-3337.

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