Pennsylvania >> The Lancaster Red Rose Chapter is offering young hunters the experience of a lifetime — and lessons that will last a lifetime.
In December, chapter members conducted their 15th annual Youth Pheasant Hunt. The chapter selected 21 youth from Lancaster and Lebanon counties to participate in the hunt — most from area hunter education classes, where students who earned perfect scores on end-of-class tests were put into a drawing for the pheasant hunt. A few additional youth were selected from attendees at the Youth Field Day hosted by Lancaster County Sportsmen for Youth, of which the chapter is a member.
The goal of the Youth Pheasant Hunt is to give the young hunters hands-on experience in the field. The youth learn how to safely hunt with others, how to work with bird dogs, and more. It’s a real-world test of the lessons they learned in hunter education classes — with lots of experienced mentors to help them along.
To ensure success, chapter members stocked the area with at least two birds per youth hunter. The youth first shot a few clay birds to loosen up before the hunt began. Then the youth went afield in teams with bird dogs provided by the chapter. Chapter members stayed close behind to talk the youth through each phase of the hunt.
The chapter spends about $40 per youth for the event, most of which goes toward purchasing the birds. The chapter also provides a gourmet lunch — this year, a whole deer cooked on a portable spit.
Interest in the event has been growing every year. Chapter Vice President Richard Fantazier says the event’s success is due to the transformation of the chapter’s 55-acre site into wildlife habitat (32 acres have been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and now offer robust pheasant habitat) and the exceptional dedication of chapter members. This event is helping pass along America’s hunting traditions and educate the next generation of conservation leaders. It is also helping to increase interest in the chapter.
“Each year we get inquiries and some new members as a result of the pheasant hunt,” says Fantazier. “I usually talk with the parents who come along and tell them what we do, why we run the hunt, and give them some background on our chapter and members. I generally emphasize that we are not a hunting club but focus on conservation and education, and that we regard the Youth Pheasant Hunt as a key part of our education mission.”