Female hunters made up over a third of the participants at this annual hunt
BELOIT – Thirty-five new hunters with limited experience came from all across the state to get a taste of what pheasant hunting can be like. Hunters ranged in age from 11 to 55, and out of those 35 hunters, an impressive number of 11 participants were female. The event is organized by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff from the Glen Elder Wildlife Area and volunteers from the Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, Inc. of Wichita.
This year hunters were joined by 10 celebrities and hometown heroes who served as hunting mentors. Celebrity hunters included former NFL players Mark Arneson, Jerry Holloway, Mel Gray, and Eric Williams; former professional drag racer Guy Caster; youth Crappiemasters champion John Gilotte; and national go-cart racing youth champions Brody and Nolan Pope. Hero-celebrities from the Kansas National Guard included LTC Damon Frizzell from Gardner and SSGT Casey Pennock from Manhattan.
The day began before sunrise in the basement of Hopewell Church at Glen Elder State Park with a biscuits and gravy breakfast. Following breakfast the young hunters were briefed on safety procedures and then divided into five hunting groups. Each hunting group had celebrities, a hunt captain, and at least three bird dogs. Groups hunted in either Glen Elder State Park or in one of the refuge areas on Glen Elder Wildlife Area surrounding the lake where public hunting is generally not allowed.
Every group saw a good number of pheasants within shooting range and almost all of the hunters got multiple shot opportunities at the tough birds. Only the youth and celebrities hunted in each group and each youth was “shadowed” by a parent or other adult mentor throughout the morning. While afield, participants also enjoyed seeing lots of deer, geese, ducks, bald eagles, as well as several other wildlife species.
Hunters bagged a combined total of eight roosters, with every group harvesting at least one bird. The morning of the hunt, participant Cassandra Kinzie even managed to pull off a “double” on two roosters that flushed together, making quite a present for the young lady who celebrated her birthday that day.
At lunch, groups returned to the church basement for a meal provided by the Waconda Lake Association. Hunting stories were shared and one youth hunter from each group was recognized and presented with an additional prize for demonstrating excellent safety skills while they hunted. A longest tail feather contest was also held for the successful youth hunters. After lunch, several hunters took part in a trap shoot held in Glen Elder State Park. Within a couple hours, trap shooters managed to burn up about 1,500 rounds of target ammo and blue rock that was provided as part of the event.
The day’s events concluded in the evening with a Hunter’s Banquet held at Memorial Hall in Downs where each youth hunter received a prize package, and attendees learned about the importance of quality habitat for pheasants and the importance of getting more kids involved in hunting. Meet and greets with celebrity hunters concluded the evening.
“This event would not be possible without the generous support of over 30 businesses and individuals that stepped up as sponsors from the local communities surrounding Waconda Lake,” said Glen Elder Wildlife Area Manager, Chris Lecuyer. “These sponsors allow the day-long event to be offered to participants absolutely free of charge and their donations of prizes, food, services, and financial contributions continue to make the event a bigger success every year, so thank you.”
For information, contact the Glen Elder Area Office at (785) 545-3345.