“Was that a pin-tail drake?” Kyle asked me as he peered over Eli’s blind.
“Yes, I think so!” I replied. I was amazed at the lucky circumstances of Yellowstone Hunt Club’s first Youth Hunt.
Between Kyle, Rick and I more than 500 days of duck hunting had past with very few chances at pin-tail drakes. That was second of the day that had attempted to land in the midst of our four dozen decoys.
Aaron, Rick, Kyle and I had humped those decoys and blinds across a half mile of broken and boggy ground in the pre-dawn darkness to the edge of Big Lake. Youths Kyle, Tyler and Eli had carried their gear over the same ground. By the time Eli harvested his first sprig, we all knew that the planning and work we put into this youth hunt was paying off!
The work started in the Spring of 2014 with our first ever shotgun raffle. With the proceeds raised by that raffle the YHC purchased three youth shotguns, two layout blinds and more decoys. The hours the YHC membership put in hanging posters and driving around town selling tickets allowed us to make those purchases. Those purchases laid the foundation for the hunt. Kyle, Rick and I had spent many hours scouting. That scouting helped us to build the plan.
Youth hunter Kyle had the finest shot of the day. A mallard drake swung into our spread, when he was in range the youths sat up, aimed at the bird and missed! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! The mallard was still flying, flapping hard to get out of range.
Kyle calmly drew a bead and BOOM! The duck fell out of the sky dead. Kyle slayed that duck at every bit of 45 yards! Gunnr retrieved his duck.
During a lull in the action Kyle Mcall decided that the decoys needed some adjusting. The next thing I saw was Kyle sitting in the mud looking sheepish. Rick was the only other hunter with waders, so it was up to him to save Kyle!
By noon the flights of birds had slackened and it was time to hump all the gear back to the trucks. Once all of the hunters made it back to the trucks it was time for lunch. It’s funny how good a salami sandwich and a Powerade taste after a hunt.
This is what the Yellowstone Hunt Club does! We get and keep people hunting. In case you didn’t know, hunters are America’s greatest conservationists.
The Yellowstone Hunt Club(YHC) put the rubber to the asphalt this week and began Youth Hunt 2014. Tuesday September 16th Rick, Todd and Kyle of the YHC hosted Youth Hunt 2014 participants Eli, Scott, Tyler, and Chelsea at Blue Creek Sport Shooting Complex and Preserve to acquaint the youths and their parents to the YHC. Rick and Todd explained the agenda for the evening.
Parents and children were told what they would need to provide and what the YHC would provide. Dates of the upcoming hunts were discussed and paperwork was signed. Then the fun portion of the evening began.
Rick had brought four of the YHC’s layout blinds as well as the .20 gauge shotguns the YHC purchased for these Youth Hunts.
First Eli, Scott, Tyler and Chelsea were asked to assist in assembling the blinds, then they were shown how the blind worked. They were asked to practice sitting up in the blind and then shoulder their shotgun. Blue Creek allowed the YHC to set up at their Five Stand Sporting Clays area. This provided a number of clay presentations that would be similar to what the youths would see in the field. One by one starting with Scott, the youths were coached by YHC members to open the blind doors, sit up, shoulder their shotgun and try to fire at and hit an incoming clay.
Even for an accomplished shooter, the experience of starting laying down can be challenging. Scott started off the exercise. Todd instructed Scott to sit up in the blind and then mount his shotgun. As he was bringing up the shotgun the clay was thrown. The clay presented itself moving towards the shoot at slight right to left angle. It started its flight approximately 40 yards out and finished about 15 yards from the shooter. Scott progressively got better and smoother. He finished the night busting a few clays.
Up next was Eli, whom has previous hunting experience. This showed in his movements in the blind and resulted in many broken clays.
Towards the end of the evening Eli’s mother showed us pictures of his hunts last year. Eli’s older brother harvested a swan at Medicine Lake. Todd was visibly jealous.
Tyler is a member of the Smokin’ Guns Shooting team at Blue Creek and has spent many hours breaking clays. Even this seasoned-veteran of the clays mentioned that it was more difficult to connect while transitioning from laying down to sitting. This difficulty was not evident in Tyler’s shooting. His Smokin’ Guns team members will be happy to hear that Tyler didn’t miss a clay!
Chelsea was the final shooter for the event. She was also the least experienced. Kyle spent the entire evening helping Chelsea. He explained how and when to execute the moves and offered encouragement. Chelsea showed the most growth of any participant. Towards the end of the night everyone there noticed a better rhythm to her movements and shooting. While she didn’t break a clay she was very, very close on a number of them. The YHC is certain that she will connect with many ducks and geese this year!
The event was a success! The first steps in the process of Youth Hunt 2014 were taken.
Next up? The actual hunts.