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Kids Experience Joys of Hunting
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Young people from across the state learned techniques and ethics of managing and hunting waterfowl before returning to experience the satisfaction of a December day's hunt.
Nearly 60 youth and their guardians took part in the Third Annual Youth Waterfowl Hunters' Workshop at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 31. They returned to the Refuge in December to a green-tree reservoir where the participants had the exclusive opportunity to hunt waterfowl.
Dean Stewart, wildlife specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, coordinated the workshop. The goal of the Extension workshop was to teach young people, ages 10 to 17, ethical hunting principles as well as to promote a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for waterfowl resources.
"Many of these young people had never been duck hunting before. Since many first hunts are more frustrating than fun, this guided experience provided a greater opportunity for enjoyment," Stewart said. "We expect these young hunters to continue to be responsible stewards of Mississippi's wildlife resources."
First time attendants, Andrew and Brent Bailey of Starkville were fascinated by many of the workshop's demonstrations, especially the retrieving dog.
"The dog was so well trained," Andrew Bailey, 13, said. "I wish I had a dog that minded that well."
The brothers were also fascinated by Buck Gardner of Tennessee, the World Champion duck caller.
"It was interesting and amazing that so many sounds could come from that little instrument," Brent Bailey, 15, said.
In addition to the duck calls and retriever sessions, the youth also learned about duck identification. Dr. Rick Kaminski, wildlife and fisheries professor at MSU, used a slide show to teach wildlife identification, so the youth would not exceed the bag limit of certain waterfowl.
"I only knew some types of geese and a few ducks, like mallards," said Andrew Bailey. "We learned about a whole lot more than I knew about."
Conservation officers from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks gave demonstrations on waterfowling firearms and firearm safety. Another session explained how radio transmitters were attached to ducks and how waterfowl are banded at the Refuge. Extension specialists taught the youth about hunting equipment and decoys needed for duck hunting.
Brandon Stovall of Louisville, age 12, attended the workshop and duck hunt for the second consecutive year. He plans to attend the workshop again next year because he likes learning about waterfowl, meeting people and duck hunting.
"I had fun meeting new people and talking to the professors from MSU," Stovall said. "I came back this year because I wanted another opportunity to learn and hunt."
On his first hunt, Stovall bagged a mallard, which is now mounted at his home. Stovall said he likes duck hunting because it is not necessary to be as quiet as when deer hunting, but it is easier to get wet when hunting waterfowl.