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Pheasant hunt

Taking a newcomer to the field should be a top priority for each hunter. It represents an investment in the future of our hunting heritage and conservation of our natural resources.

One of the most amazing experiences in hunting is taking a new hunter to the field. I have mentored new hunters for some time and encourage any of you who hunt to join our cadre.

Mentoring apprentice hunters should start with our own family or friend networks. However, be on the lookout for aspiring hunters in all sorts of unexpected places.

There are more incentives than ever before to get an avid hunter to take a new hunter to the field. Consider our new Take ’Em Hunting challenge. Visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/TakeEmHunting for more information.

Unquestionably, taking a newcomer to the field should be a top priority for each hunter. It not only represents an investment in the future of our hunting heritage and conservation of our natural resources, but you will discover that it is more rewarding than you could ever imagine.

Remember, for a new hunter, the initial days spent afield hunting are critical. The whole experience needs to go well. If there is frustration, the novice hunter will not want to return. Here are some things to know to ensure the hunting trip goes well for the newcomer:

Involve newcomers in entire process. It is important for new hunters to understand the process of the hunt from beginning to end. It starts with checking requirements and regulations, goes to organizing gear and target shooting, and wraps up with cleaning, cooking and eating the healthy quarry.

Pack your patience and make it fun. Remember to be patient, not make hunting a competitive thing or put pressure on killing an animal. Accent the positives and above all keep the mood lighthearted — make it fun, make it social.

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Talk to the landowners. I always make it a point to have new hunters visit with landowners, especially in Nebraska, where 97% of our land is under private ownership. I’ve even gone as far as to arrange for beginner hunters  to knock on doors and ask individual landowners for permission to hunt.

Stress safety. Whether it’s muzzle control, unloading the shotgun before crossing fences, knowing the appropriate zones of fire, and double-checking the target and background before firing a shot, safety should always be paramount and constantly stressed. Regarding pheasant hunting, instruct newcomers not to shoot until the “rooster” command is given.

Teach conservation. Make certain your novice hunters understand why you are planning to hunt in a certain area and point out the importance of having proper habitat.

Stop often. If you don’t have a dog for pheasant and quail hunting, walk very slowly and try stopping and standing still regularly with new hunters. This will give your newbies a chance to catch their breath and often makes rooster pheasants nervous, causing them to flush for a shot.

Keep the session short. If your kids or beginner hunters have complained about not being in the field for a long enough time to pursue game, you’ve done your job. Don’t wear them out; keep them hungry to come back for another hunt.

Happy hunting with your newcomers.

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Greg Wagner is a public information officer in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Communications Division. Contact him at greg.wagner@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, In the Wild, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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