Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors was privileged to participate in the 20th Waconda Lake Youth & Women's Pheasant Hunt, December 9, 2017. In fact, we have been taking kids to this event for the last 16 years!
Started by KDWPT staffer Mike Nyhoff when he was running things at Glen Elder State Park, in 1998, the first hunt had 9 participants. In '99, after reading a local news article about the event, David Segui (1st baseman for the Baltimore Orioles at the time) and a number of other professional athletes joined the hunt "to do something for the youth in Kansas". A trap shoot and banquet were added to the event that year and 60 beginners hunted that weekend. Fourteen local youth attended the "one-and-only" Waconda Lake Rabbit Hunt in February '99. The hunters bagged 50+ rabbits and the cooked them up for lunch. After the regular event in November 2000, a special women's pheasant hunt was held in January 2001.
The 2002 Hunt was re-named the "David Segui Youth, Women and Celebrity Pheasant Hunt". That was also the first year that the Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors program became involved with several youth hunters participating. Over the years, we have brought young hunters from across the state to participate in the hunt.
In 2008, the event welcomed military service members who had recently returned from active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. These "Hero-Celebrities" fro the KS National Guard or Fort Riley's Warrior Transition Battalion joined as special participants, recognizing them for their service.
Over the years, the event has included professional football and baseball players, professional drag racers, champion turkey callers, tournament anglers, TV soap opera actresses, KART racers, sports broadcasting announcers, and many active-duty military members who spent a day hunting and shooting with new youth and women hunters over the years.
This year, Eric Williams and Jerry Holloway, who played for the St Louis Cardinals football team, were joined by Hall of Fame drag racer Guy Caster. In addition, we had TSGT Bryan Byers, TSGT Tim Campbell, CSM Steven Strawka and SGT Kenneth Kester join 30+ youth and women hunters for this years event.
The new hunters ranged in age from 8 to 67 and there were about as many male as female hunters.
For the true beginners, we started off the day with some review of upland hunting safety specifics, a "walk-through" of a field hunt and some time with the shooting instructors, busting clay targets. Once they had honed their shooting skills, they "hunted" a field with pheasants placed in bird launchers, giving the mentors the opportunity to work with the new hunters in a very controlled environment. They wrapped up the day hunting a field where pen-raised birds had be released earlier in the day. They all had the opportunity to see great dog work and experience first-hand the excitement of having a cackling rooster bust cover.
Those new hunters who had spent previous time afield joined their mentors on a wild-bird hunt on the refuge area at Glen Elder.
We were contacted earlier this year by a young lady who had taken a hunter education class, but didn't have anyone to teach her to hunt. She was asking how she could find a mentor. We suggested that she join us for the hunt. As you can see from the picture, she got her first bird!
The day wrapped up with a banquet that evening, provided by the local Pheasants Forever chapter. Each hunter was entered in a drawing for some great prizes. Each group of hunters had a "Safe Hunter" nominated by the hunt captain. A winner was drawn from those names and they won a pheasant mount donated Jerry Scott of Scott's Taxidermy in Salina. The other Safe Hunters won game shears.
All participants received a commemorative hunting vest, donated by the Ringneck Rustlers chapter of Pheasants Forever.
We look forward to seeing these new hunters in the field again soon!
This event wouldn't be possible without the help received from all of the many volunteers who mentored the new hunters and the sponsors who helped with all of the expenses of this event! Many Thanks!!
2017 Major Sponsors
- KS Wildlife Parks & Tourism
- Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors, Inc.
- Waconda Lake Association
- Waconda Ringnecks PF Chapter
- Osbourne County PF Chapter
- Ringneck Rustlers PF Chapter
- Doug Richards
- Brown Jerry's Blues, Brews & BBQ
- Brush Art Corporation
- Midway Coop
To see photos from the event, check out the photo gallery!