On July 28, Alaska Ducks Unlimited hosted a Youth Waterfowl Hunting Clinic at Birchwood Recreational Shooting Park. This event was stimulated by a generous grant from Alaska Waterfowl Association at the 2012 DU Spring Barbeque and the desire to offer a quality educational program for DU Greenwings. The goals of the clinic were to frame waterfowl hunting knowledge and skills in the context of hunter responsibility and resource conservation—and to have fun learning about traditional waterfowling arts. Eighteen youngsters, boys and girls ages 11-17, registered for a sunny Saturday with parents, grandparents and a serious corps of volunteers.
As a model for future clinics, the day’s schedule was fully packed with classroom talks on safety, shotgun and ammunition basics, and principles of how to effectively select and use shotguns and hunting loads. Tom Rothe (ADFG retired) and Lee Rogers with the ADFG Hunter Information and Training Program quickly got the kids outdoors to demonstrate the flight of shot strings and how to test shotguns and ammunition to get efficient patterns for bagging ducks and geese. Then the eager students got personal instruction on handling shotguns and shooting incoming overhead targets. The mid-day break included a barbecue lunch entirely hosted by the crew of Pizza Man in Eagle River, while Gwen Haynes demonstrated dog training and retrieving by her Golden Retriever, “Tank.” Boomer Hesley, Tom Rothe and DU Regional Director Dave Weber kicked off the afternoon session with duck and goose calling tips—quite the chorus of honks and quacks—and showed examples of decoy sets for dabbler, divers, and geese. The day was completed with lots more shooting as the youngsters learned to shoot crossing targets.
The “graduation” close-out was full of smiles, anticipation of opening day hunts, and many thanks to all who made the clinic possible. Each student received a duck call, hat and a DU Greenwing membership donated by DU volunteer leaders. Special thanks were due to ADFG and the Alaska Outdoor Heritage Foundation for youth shotguns and ammunition, Boondocks Sporting Goods for underwriting ammunition, and the essential crew at Birchwood Shooting Park for the classroom, safe ranges, and many, many clay targets. The day was especially successful with the energetic help of DU volunteers Janyce Harpel and Kay Doil, range assistance by Roger Penrod and Corey Doil, hustle by Eric Taylor and Ann Rothe, and photography by Russ Krafft.
Lead instructor, Tom Rothe, presents information on safety, firearms, ballistics and principles of effective shooting.
Lee Rogers (ADFG) instructs a student on the incoming overhead target.
DU leader, Corey Doil demonstrates how to combine decoys and calling—and getting shelter from the rain.
Boomer Hesely teaches when to use various calls on incoming ducks.
The Graduates: Happy future hunters ready for opening day; Tom Rothe, Roger Penrod