With the rapid rise in the number of Kansas high schools supporting trap teams, we decided that it would be a great missed opportunity if we didn’t do what we could to give members of those teams the opportunity to experience a hunt. Ideally, we would like to give them the opportunity to their hand at all kinds of hunting opportunities.
Because dove season opens the fall hunting first, and because it’s relatively easy to set up and organize, Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors reached out to several area high school trap teams and invited them to a dove hunt. We paired the teams with volunteers from local conservation groups like Pheasants Forever and Delta Waterfowl. Then we lined them up with places to hunt and ammo to use on their hunts.
High school trap teams are ideal targets for recruitment efforts. Most, if not all, of the kids have already taken a hunter safety class. Most, if not all, have their own shotguns. And they’ve all been shooting for at least a season of trap shooting. The sport is growing rapidly here in Kansas. Last spring, there were over 1,200 students participating in the high school trap league in Kansas and at the state trap shoot, there were 875 participants. It was the largest trap shoot ever held in Kansas! And they are expecting these numbers to double in 2019.
These are kids that have already been recruited into the shooting sports. Now we need to get them in the field and introduce them to hunting! They are already contributing to our conservation efforts through the taxes collected on their ammunition and guns. Let’s get them buying hunting licenses and tags!
For our first stab at this effort, it went pretty well. For kids on the Maize High School trap team, it went great!! They had 5 kids and three volunteers aided by two volunteers from the local Ringneck Rustlers Pheasants Forever chapter spend opening day evening hunting a pond, courtesy of Irish Creek Outfitters. All told, they bagged 77 doves that evening! One young lady, who had hunted before, but not doves, bagged 13 doves. On her second shot, she dropped one at 50 yards. As she and the volunteer she was hunting with were retrieving the dove, she asked how far the shot was. Shannon told her it was further than a shot from the 27-yard line on a trap field! Maize coach Victor Mercado commented that it was one of the best hunts he had been on!
Maize South High School and Andover High School traveled to Fall River to hunt. Unfortunately, the doves weren’t as cooperative there. Ben Stultz/KDWPT manager at Fall River said the doves were there earlier in the week but weren’t on opening weekend. The kids did manage to bag a few birds and got to meet with volunteers from the Delta Waterfowl Second Split Chapter. Dave Kirchner, chapter president commented, “They were very respectful young men and amazing parents and coaches of this team. As we Delta volunteers stated out at Fall River, everyone out there has a spot in our blinds anytime.”
Other Second Split chapter members took kids from Remington High School out for a hunt. Chad Dawson commented, “With most available grain still standing in the fields and a storm on the move, conditions were less than favorable. The kids and their parents were more than understanding and willing to stick it out. Their perseverance proved worthwhile as each kid was able to run several rounds through the barrels of their shotguns.
The kids and their parents soon found out that a dove is a challenging target. Providing a much more erratic flight compared to the bright orange clays they are accustomed to. Laughs were shared, along with plenty of friendly trash talk. It was in these moments we reaffirmed why we, as hunters and volunteers, love this crazy life.”
Jamie Krumsick volunteered to host the Kapaun High School trap team a couple of weeks into the season. While we hadn’t had the cooler weather that we typically have that moves the doves on south, it seemed that most had moved on already. The 6 kids on the hunt, all first-timers, still managed to have a good time and bag a few birds while they were at it.
Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors wishes to thank all of the volunteers who stepped up to make these hunting opportunities possible for these kids. Special thanks to Ben Stultz/KDWPT for lining up the hunts at Fall River, to Jamie Krumsick for inviting the Kapaun team to hunt his property and to Steve Westfahl and Irish Creek Outfitters for letting the Maize team hunt his property! And many thanks to Federal Ammunition for donating the non-toxic shot for the hunt at Fall River!
We intend for this effort to be just the beginning! Ideally, we would like to work with conservation groups from across the state to team up with the high schools that are supporting trap teams and provide these kids with more hunting opportunities as the seasons progress. Let’s get these kids out on a pheasant hunt, on a duck hunt and goose hunt. Let’s get them turkey hunting in the spring! Kansas has so much to offer these kids, but those of us in the hunting community need to step up and take them afield, showing them how to be safe, ethical hunters and teaching them to be our future conservationists!