Annual Hunt Successful
Feature, October 26, 2010

“It really isn’t fun unless you have excitement.” That is what one youth was heard to be proclaiming to her father at the annual Kingston Veterans Sportsmen Pheasant Hunt recently accompanied by Laurel Highland Pheasants Forever.

And if one confronted most all the kids, they would have agreed, all would have agreed. I state most, because only 10 did not get a pheasant out of the 38 participating from Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, and that’s great, considering there were a number that were first time hunters.

According to LHPF Treasurer Patty Moore, “We’re really excited, because we had a top turnout of kids this year. All were eager to man shotguns and head to the fields among the 300 acres of land owned by the KVS. But that wasn’t the only activity that they could partake. Each could indulge in archery and 3-D target shooting as well.

Latrobe resident Ken Hess is one of the gents who has been helping out teach these young students how to target in on clay pigeons. The Laurel Valley Nursery employee is a certified instructor Level 2 from the National Sportsmen’s Association. “What we do,” he said, “is give the youth some training as to shooting shotguns before they head to the fields to harvest their pheasants.” When asked how long he has been teaching at the club he told me about 11 years.

Before these young hunters take part in pheasant hunting, all youth 12 - 16 must have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course either provided by the state, or in this case KVS. When going afield, they must wear the required amount of orange on their person. These kids do not have to purchase junior licenses for this hunt.

Prior to the kids going afield, officers of KVS and LHPF assigned those taking part to groups of four or five. Heading each group was a mentor accompanied by his well-trained dog or dogs, and the fathers who instructed the youth in alertness, marksmanship and sportsmanship.

Just before the kids were escorted to the field on which they were going to hunt, a member of KVS would take eight pheasants and carefully plant them in one of two fields, among deep coverage of growths, so their appearance wouldn’t be exposed. When the kids were led onto the acreage, the mentor would give commands to his dogs and they would always do their jobs, circling the birds, pointing exactly where they would be found, alerting the hunter. Fowl either took to the air or ran along the ground. It would then be up to the hunter to successfully harvest his pheasant.

Moore relinquished that ten per cent of the birds did escape. A matter of fact, one was seen crossing a road not far from the maintenance building near the pavilion where the youth signed in and members congregated.

Noting the shirt she was wearing clearly portraying Pheasants Forever, I asked her what the comparison in percentage was of hunts to other activities. “These Mentored Youth Hunts is about 10 per cent of what the organization does,” she stated. “We do so much more for pheasant survival, and work very hard doing so. What you see here is for youth education.”

Fifteen year-old Daniel Starr, Acme, related one of the observations on one of the last hunts of the day. “Most of the birds were running, because it’s hot, but the dog managed to flush out five. Two were hit. Three got away. Daniel is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Starr.

And if one were to ask youth, such as first-time hunter Brandon Higgs, 14, son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Higgs, Jeannette, how they enjoyed the hunt, each responded with the same answer – “fun.” That, in the eyes of the sponsors was all they needed to know.

Hats go off to Skip Shawley, president of KVS, for being in charge of hosting this event, Kevin Adams, president, Laurel Highlands Pheasants Forever, Walt Poole, president of Fish and Game, and Jeff Uschak, president of the archery committee. Also backing the day’s activities was the Miller Run Conservation Society. All worked very hard to make this hunt a success. Special thanks go out to the Pennsylvania Game Commission that provided 100 birds for the occasion.

Both the KVS and the LHPF donated everything needed. In addition a raffle and 50/50 drawing was available for adults. Latrobe’s Jim Plummer won the gun, while the winner for the latter had the name, “Doug.” Sportsmen are still looking for the “culprit” who scratched his name on the ticket!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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