By Ryan Watts
SSC Board Director
On November 5th, two of my daughters and I had the wonderful experience of being able to go hunting together. Tori who is 14 and Alex, who is 11, had never really used a shotgun and when presented with the opportunity to learn to hunt birds at the Birds Landing Annual Youth Pheasant Hunt, we jumped on it.
The morning started with a safety brief and introduction to our instructor/guides. The kids were then handed 28g shotguns, sporting ammo, and taken to the sporting clay range for the first stage of the training. The instructor spends the next hour teaching the girls (one on one) how to track, lead and take down a bird with one shot. Alex, being the smallest in family, was very intimidated with the thought of shooting something that might kick. After the first shot, she was pleasantly surprised at how little the 28 kicked and she nailed the second clay that came out and she continued to hit the clays consistently; she is a natural. Tori (who is a competitive precision rifle shooter) had a difficult time transitioning to the shotgun, but after a few rounds of misses and playful jeering from her younger sister, she got her first clay; thereafter she was
Once the girls were comfortable with the shotguns, we went back to the club house for a short break and prepared for phase two, our big hunt. The kids were all given up to 3 pheasants and while we geared up, the pheasants were set free in our prospective fields. Our guides then grabbed their dogs and we headed out to the fields. Each girl was instructed on how to walk with the gun, to maintain muzzle awareness, engaged safety until prepared to shoot, and keeping the finger off the trigger. I was pleased to see that they listened carefully and were safe the entire day.
Not long in the fields, the dogs were on a bird and Tori scored the first kill of the day. Though we wore the kids out walking through the tall grass, both girls were able to get a bird and had a wonderful experience that will carry them for years, whether hunting or not. After the hunt, Birds Landing cleaned our birds for us and treated us with lunch. I could not have asked for a better day with my girls.