Young Hunters Take Aim at Ballyneal Shooting Event

Max Levy, The Holyoke Enterprise

Phillips County Pheasants Forever

Grace Roberts of Holyoke participates in an activity during the Phillips County Pheasants Forever youth hunt March 16. — Dale Berg

Sponsored by Phillips County Pheasants Forever and Ballyneal Golf Club, a group of seven youths trekked out to the Ballyneal hunting grounds last Saturday, March 16, for a day of supervised hunting fun.

Besides having all previously attended hunter safety courses, Phillips County Pheasants Forever youth chairman Tom Olson said the 12- through 16-year-olds brought various levels of experience to the hunt.

All attendees were still able to participate in two rounds of shooting, where chukars, a type of gamebird, were planted and then flushed out by a dog for them to target.

Olson said youth hunts put on by Pheasants Forever give kids an introductory understanding of the sport, including the role of hunters in conservation and habitat preservation.

“Our first mission is habitat, and the second is youth development,” he said. “It’s all about introducing kids to this type of hunting with a real emphasis on safety.”

Olson also acknowledged the value of Ballyneal offering the grounds for the club’s use.

“They couldn’t have been more gracious or helpful in hosting for us,” he said.

In addition to the seven young hunters, nine parents and volunteers attended, as well as Pheasants Forever farm bill biologist Chrissy Rhodes.

The day started out with breakfast and a presentation by Rhodes on habitat, followed by a trip to the shooting range where participants shot clay targets in preparation for the hunt.

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