Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors has been very fortunate that over the last 12+ years a number of outfitters have stepped up to offer outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities for the youth in our program. We’ve had a great goose hunt thanks to Flatland Waterfowl. We’ve had a young hunter go elk hunting in New Mexico (it was filmed for a STEP Outside show on the Outdoor Channel). We’ve hunted deer on the Z Bar Ranch in southcentral Kansas (one of those was also filmed for a STEP Outside show). Ringneck Ranch, Prairie Wind Hunt Club, Beavers Game Farm and many other outfitters have hosted pheasant hunts. All greatly appreciated. One outfitter in particular, Bell Wildlife Specialties, has gone above and beyond year after year, every year we have been taking kids hunting.
I first met Dan Bell at a Quail Unlimited banquet here in Wichita in September of ‘02. Dan had donated a hunt for their auction and came down for the event. That was just a couple of months after I had hired on with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters to start their Outdoor Mentoring program. He heard about what we were trying to create and offered to host a youth turkey hunt that following spring.
When March rolled around, I gave Dan a call, hoping that he remembered me and his offer to host the hunt. Dan quickly replied with a hearty, “Come on up!” That first year we took a dozen kids up to Dan’s place in Harveyville for the hunt. We also had a film crew from Diamond Adventures come along to get some film for their outdoor show. This turned out to be very fortuitous as some of the footage shows some turkey hunting action that is absolutely fantastic!
Since that first hunt, Dan has hosted anywhere from 10-15 young hunters every April during the Kansas Youth Hunt weekend. Dan has also hosted deer hunts and goose hunts for us, when the opportunities were available. Hosting all of the hunters and mentors and guides, providing meals and lodging and great hunting opportunities, Dan and his staff have done it all.
We’ve had a several young hunters put their turkeys in the Kansas record book. In fact, one young hunter has 2 birds in the record book!
Dan has also hosted deer hunts and goose hunts (again, STEP Outside came along to film that hunt as well), when the opportunity was available. As an outfitter, working to make a living guiding hunts, Dan’s giving these kids a chance to hunt defines his commitment to insuring that our hunting heritage is passed along to the next generation.
Dan takes time with each hunt to carefully prep the hunters, as many of the mentors have been novice turkey hunters as well. The young hunters are given a hunter safety and gun safety refresher before heading to the blinds. Dan coaches them on calling techniques and tactics. Dan also provides additional guides to insure that each young hunter has an experienced hunter with them.
We can’t begin to thank Dan and the staff at Bell Wildlife Specialties for all they have done to help us get more kids outdoors!
Over the last 16 years that we have been hunting with Dan, we have lots of great stories to tell. Stay tuned…we’ll be getting to some of those soon!