Travis has been packing around a bb gun with me for nearly 2 years. He has been learning about gun safety and handling a gun responsibly. He is getting better each outing and finally today we broke out the 28 gauge shotgun and he got to shoot his first pheasant. I am excited for him to spend time with me outdoors and hope this is the first of many hunting trips together.
One of my favorite things about training dogs is sharing with others, especially young people. I invited a couple of friends the other day to come and watch my dogs work and to be my shooters. My neighbor and avid hunter John C. (left) with his son had a fun time chasing pheasants while I worked with Annie on being more steady on point. My other friend Aaron came up from SG with his son to see the cover and tour the pheasant hunting preserve where I work as a guide. Aaron raises and trains german shorthairs and is the breeder of the dog Ace that I am currently working with.
Chris Colt of cove mountain kennels was out working with his new english pointer “Max”. It was his first time to watch Max working around birds and he was anxious to see where to start the training. Max seemed to have plenty of bird drive and not much problem with guns and noise sensitivity. It was fun to be the bird man for Chris and to watch him work and train the dogs from his kennel. Chris has been looking for a new pointing dog since he lost his wirehair Aika this past year to old age. This new english pointer just might be the ticket. Watch the video of Max’s first pheasant on YouTube.
Ace did well and had a fabulous back with Annie pointing a covey of wild valley quail that live on the property. We are trying to grow the quail population on the pheasant farm as they are a nice addition to the game birds. We use bobwhite quail for training but the valley quail are much more beautiful. I wish I could have got a picture of it but I was proud of Annie and Ace for their solid bird work.
Russ was kind enough to invite the fathers and sons in our town for a pheasant hunt. Many of the youth had never shot a pheasant before or had seen pointing dogs at work. Russ always starts with a safety talk and gives some pointers on shooting. Each of the boys in my group were able to shoot a pheasant. A few of my neighbors commented on my dogs “Wow, we didn’t know you had this kind of dogs”. I was proud of Abby and Annie, they looked sharp. Thanks to John Jacks, Sterling Lee, Wade Peterson and JJ & Jeff Brewer for volunteering as guides and dog handlers. We had a 1:1 adult to youth ratio which helped to keep things safe and fun. It’s always fun to bring young people into the field and teach them to hunt. All of the boys learned to clean their own birds and we had a delicious dutch oven dinner with smoked pheasant and taters. Thanks to Tom & Bess Christensen and Russ & Carol Peterson for preparing the meal. The hunt was a big success.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to volunteer as a guide/dog handler at the annual Southern Utah Youth Fun Hunt. What a great experience for young people to be introduced to hunting upland game with pointing dogs. This was my first time participating and I was really impressed by the organization of an event of this magnitude. My hat goes off to the founders, sponsors and organizers of this year’s youth fun hunt. The kids had a wonderful time and I was told they ran over 200 kids through in two days of hunting.
This is my friend Robert Well’s dog Toby on point during one of the early braces. Robert has been volunteering at this event for several years and invited me to attend this year with my dogs Annie and Abby. Toby was a real joy to watch work and is a classy german shorthair.
Safety was our first concern with each brace we started with a safety talk and went over the rules. When the dogs went on point, the handlers would physically restrain them while the youth hunters were walked around to get ready for the shot.
With the shooters in place another would kick the pheasant out of the bushes. Upon the shot we would release the dogs for the retrieve. We were able to get at least one successful bird shot for each kid. Towards the end of the day a big storm rolled in and the wind cranked up. Kent Forbush is pictured below with the gathering storm.
My son Travis just recently turned nine years old and is starting to show an interest in hunting. He has become more and more involved in helping train our dogs and shooting has become a big part of that training process. Today my friend custom loaded a few 16 gauge shells with not much more than a primer so the boys could try shooting a shotgun. Since they changed the minimum age for youth hunters in the state of Utah I have been trying to decide what is the right age to sign my son up for Hunters Safety classes. Personally, I think 12 is a good age limit and will use that age as a goal for Travis to reach before he hunts. There will be plenty of opportunities between now and then for me to begin teaching him about gun safety and hunting ethics. I look forward to the day when we can hunt side-by-side but first and foremost will be teaching him a respect for wildlife and firearms.