One of the ways we are going to be able to reach new hunters is through partnership. Last weekend MUCC had the opportunity to take part in an event that was a great example of how working together can make a big difference. On March 23, I helped to serve as a hunter safety instructor for a youth pheasant hunt and our Huron Pines AmeriCorps Autumn helped with a youth/family small game hunt on the other side of the state.
MUCC has been a part of both of these events for a few years now. The pheasant hunt is in its third year and we joined as a partner last year. The rabbit hunt has been going on for several years and came about during discussions at an OTG event at Crane Pond State Game Area.
To make both of these events happen, the collaboration between several groups had to occur. In no particular order, groups that were involved included MUCC, the DNR, Southern Michigan Hunting Retriever Club, Whitetails Unlimited, the Abrams Foundation, Delta Waterfowl, Bear Creek Hunt Club, and several other sponsors who provided door prizes and swag for the kids to take home.
The best part of the event besides all of these groups coming together was the kids had an awesome time at each event!
At the pheasant hunt, we had 21 kids and their guardians come out for a day or hunting and learning. The kids were split into two groups to help the day run smoothly. The first group started with a clay pigeon warm up, followed by a tower shoot. While one group was hunting, the other group was working with the dogs of the retriever club. A mock hunt was set up and the kids had the opportunity to run the dogs through retriever drills. They also spent time learning how to duck call, thanks to the efforts of members of Delta Waterfowl. Once the groups were done, they flip-flopped stations and the hunting group moved to the dog work and vice versa. Through the generous support of the partners, there were 120 birds available for the kids to hunt. There was a break for lunch and several families stayed to participate in a walk up hunt and bird cleaning demonstration.
Over on the southwest side of the state, Autumn was helping at the Crane Pond State Game Area. The DNR Wildlife Division was hosting a youth/family small game/rabbit hunt. Thirty youth and their guardians/mentors set out at 7:30 AM to hunt throughout the state game area and spend the morning in the woods. Several mentors were on hand with their dogs at this event as well as letting the kid experience the thrill of running rabbits with beagles. Around 11:30, the groups made their way back to the DNR buildings to share stories of their hunts and enjoy some lunch provided by MUCC. Autumn reported there were many smiles, even though the rabbits and squirrels did a good job of avoiding the hunters throughout the morning.
Both days wrapped up with a short talk about how important hunting is for conservation, and how lucky these groups of kids is to have the opportunity to be hunters. Instilling in them the value of them helping to conserve the wildlife in this state for decades to come.
These were great events with lots of support from different groups, the youth and their families. These type of events highlight what is best about the outdoor community. There is not much better than happy kids and happy dogs after successful hunts.