Aspiring Young Hunters Revive a Declining Sport in Fergus Falls

Dozens of kids and teens practice their shotgun shooting in preparation for the real thing

FERGUS FALLS, Minn — Pheasant hunters in Fergus Falls are getting kids behind the barrel to revive a sport on the decline.

This after the DNR estimates Minnesota’s hunting population is down by about 20,000 in the past decade.

From ages 12 to 17, dozens of boys and girls are carrying on a tradition.

“I started shooting when I was eight or nine years old,” said Kolsen Papon of Fergus Falls.

After a refresher seminar on responsibilities, these younsters began shooting clay pigeons while learning tricks and strategies from highly skilled hunters.

“It’s more than just the hunting,” said Doug Wells , president the Otter Tail County chapter of Pheasants Forever. “I think it’s developing an appreciation for nature and the need for habitat for wildlife of all kinds.”

Pheasants Forever provides a safe and accessible passageway into a sport declining in popularity.

“What we’re looking at is number one, safety,” said Roger Erstad of Pheasants Forever. “Number two, safety. Number three, safety”

“Pheasants Forever really is first and foremost a habitat organization,” Wells added. “Everything we do is to try to improve grassland and wetland habitat in this part of the state.”

The afternoon was all about trap and skeet shooting, but before the month ends, they’ll get the chance show what they’ve learned.

“They get a chance to kill some real pheasants,” Erstad said.

In about two weeks, the kids and their parents will set out for a day of hunting.

But not before they have some fun shooting targets.

“I’ve come out here two other times and it’s been fun every time,” Papon said. “Seven out of ten on skeet, so I’m pretty happy.”

The goal of this more than decade old event is teaching these kids how to keep it safe while having fun.

Their youth pheasant hunt starts at 1:00pm on October 22nd at the Viking Valley Hunt Club in Fergus Falls.

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