|WVTC Youth pheasant hunt outing|
Robert Plante photos
Willow Valley Trophy Club (WVTC) held a Youth Pheasant Hunt which was attended by 14 kids aged 10 to 16 years old with their parents on land owned by Mel Holtman close to Pincher Creek. Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association representative Mike Uchikura was on hand to help instruct the youth and help deliver the pheasants.
The club paid to have 50 male ring-neck pheasants released under the pheasant release program.
WVTC President Lindsey Paterson believes that the ACA releases 10,000 pheasants across appropriate habitats in Alberta to supplement the wild population. "When you are releasing a bird that is actually not native to Alberta, there is some paperwork involved to make sure we are not displacing any native birds," said Paterson who explained special permits were required from Fish and Wildlife because this is an introduced species. "They were originally from China. They were introduced here at the turn of the century. We have had since a wild population in Alberta. It actually brings a lot of money to the economy, especially in small towns like Magrath, Raymond, Brooks, and Taber. There is a huge wild population around Magrath and south of Lethbridge."
"We talk about gun safety, that is paramount, then we practice with clay pigeons." Paterson explained there was one on one mentoring with each child on how to use their gun. Once the youth had gained some experience one of the birds was set loose on the ground in the area before a child took their turn. Paterson explained, "We essentially flush the pheasant and they get a shot at it. They are only allowed one shot at it, for safety purposes." Twenty three of the fifty released where taken as prize birds.
"We got tremendous feedback from all parties, and I think this will become a first annual, because we want to do it again, definitely." Paterson said the club is open to working with other youth groups in the future. "Yes it was an artificial hunt, in that those pheasants were planted, there was the message of gun safety, the camaraderie of hunting, and the excitement of having a big beautiful game bird erupt at your feet, and the challenge of trying to get one." The funds for this event came from Shell Waterton and the club's youth fundraiser raffle.