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Youth firearms training -- a great start to a long hunting career

This is a capital idea! It involves area sportsmen; adults who take time out to instruct boys and girls who, at the age of 12 years, wish to accompany parents or guardians into the duck blind or upland in a quest of ducks or pheasants. Some opt for the dense woods after whitetail deer or ruffed grouse. Irrespective of the quarry sought, these young people are in need of knowledgeable instruction.

Every year in the late spring classes are formed and the kids learn all about guns, game, gun safety, laws, and the established procedures that are necessary to get involved with guns and hunting. The results of this training puts afield a group of young people who will enjoy the sport more, with greater productive results, and all within sensible safety rules.

Such units as the Becker County Sportsmen and the Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen have the necessary firing range facilities at which actual firing of firearms concludes weeks of classroom instruction. There, the young people, usually employing rimfire rifles but occasionally shotguns, study gun functions, aiming and sighting, and the nomenclature of the firearms themselves.

Girls are becoming attendees more and more, and in significant numbers. Instructors agree that girls grasp the fundamentals more quickly than do the boys. The boys often have some familiarity with guns, but girls enter the classrooms with a more open mind, have fewer preconceived ideas, and learn to accept instruction and guidance. And girls, as a rule, become accomplished marksmen. They are the young women who are making inroads on attitudes about hunting, guns, and gun ownership.

A shotgun or rifle may be needed

The youth firearms trainees are eager to get into the duck blind or to the pheasant fields. Often, this means a new gun. Dad or Uncle Bob may be ready to hand one over. But are they appropriate for the size of the new hunter? Often, a rifle will have excessive recoil or noise. Or both! A hand-me-down shotgun may be too heavy. Or the length of pull may be in excess. Gun fit is important and if the gun isn't a pricey thing, adjustments to make it fit can be accomplished, often at little cost. If dad isn't knowledgeable about these things, the services of a gunsmith or some other hunter may be able to provide guidance or perhaps perform the necessary work.

The 20-gauge semi-automatic is often a very good choice. There are a number of great models available, from such big names as Ruger, Remington, Browning, Winchester or Beretta. Many have a set of adjustment shims furnished with the gun. These will adapt the shotgun to the young shooter, with corrections for comb height, cast-on (or castoff).

The choice of a 12 gauge is fine if the young boy or girl is of sufficient build to handle this one. They do have recoil to contend with and this can lead to flinching, and general fear of the arm. In the case of a center fire rifle, these too can produce recoil and excessive noise.

Better to choose something other than the popular .30-06 or a .270 Winchester. The popular .243 Winchester hits with authority, has cartridges widely available in several bullet weights, and the recoil and report is tolerable. For the first season or two, perhaps it is prudent to forego the acquisition of a shotgun or rifle, until experience is gained, and enthusiasm remains high. Nothing pleases a parent more than to take on his young boy or girl as a hunting partner. I recall that hunting ducks, rabbits and squirrels with my dad was great. You too, will like it!

Minnesota pheasants: Looking good!

Despite one of the worst winters in many years -- it was like winters of old --Minnesota pheasants weathered things in a remarkable fashion.

The month of June is often a critical month, and we've not had the excessive rain, but the temperatures could have been better. Yet, there wasn't any frost and there were insects about, which provide the necessary protein the young birds need.

The first mowing of alfalfa got a relatively late start. This is the cover crop that hen pheasants prefer for nesting.

There is now a "memorandum of understanding" in place between the Commissioners of the Transportation and Conservation agencies of our state. This is an agreement to delay roadside mowing until August each year, which will allow hens to bring off broods in the heavy cover in the state's roads and highways. Farmers, for the most part have been mowing when pheasants were off the eggs and good production of young birds resulted.

"Better than expected," was the word from DNR game managers in the south and west pheasant belt of Minnesota.

The Minnesota State Trapshoot

Not since the glory years, three decades ago, when Harry L. Johnston and sons Mike, Pat, and Tim were scoring well in competition trap shooting have we had a Detroit Lakes shooting family in the news.

But now we have the shootingest family ever! Its Brett Friesen, with junior marksman Anthony shooting sizzling scores at the traps. The Minnesota shoot will be held a week from now, at the Alexandria gun club. Brett will head his motor home south and the family will compete in singles, handicap, and the difficult doubles events. We expect to see all of the Friesen entrants in the win columns. They're equipped with the Ulm, Germany, Kreighoff models for the most part, and these prestige shotguns are natural winners when the shotgunner is as skilled as the Friesen group has proved to be. We'll be reporting here on their success. The shoot dates are July 7 - 12 if you're planning on getting in on the action too.