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Courtesy Photo
Allan Smith of Champion, with back to camera, was the only hunter who harvested a bird at the mentor hunt reunion

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Courtesy Photo
Carter Leibbrandt, left, of Imperial, Nebraska’s NYLC representative, and Taylor Maxfield of Oakley, Kansas, NW Kansas NYLC representative, get ready to head to the field at the youth mentor hunt reunion.

Third Pheasants Forever hunting reunion reunites mentors, adults

    The Southwestern Nebraska Pheasants Forever Chapter hosted the third Youth Mentor Reunion Hunt.
    Graduates,volunteers, mentors and dog handlers from the chapter’s previous Youth Mentor Hunt the past 19 years were invited to reconnect and celebrate the success of the program, as well as share a day in the field.
     At the Youth Mentor Hunts in October each year, youths are the only ones who carry a firearm while hunting. This reunion hunt is different in the hunting style. The chapter members work to hunt together when possible. Mentors and youths hunt together, and adults carry firearms during this hosted event.
    “It gives youths a chance to hunt alongside with other hunters and have the chance to hunt with a dog or two,” said Heather Francis, president of the Southwestern Pheasants Forever chapter, which sponsors the hunts and reunions.
     Seventeen hunters went to the field at the reunion Jan. 24, hunting in the unexpected snow from the night before. Several public access sites were hunted throughout the day.
    The group did hunt private land where pheasants flushed and most of the hunters were able to shoot at some roosters, Francis said.
    “The hunting proved to be more of a challenge this year compared to previous years hunts,” she said.
    At the end of the day, only one pheasant was harvested by Allan Smith of Champion. Smith received a Yeti cooler, donated by Trinidad Bean. Thirty people attended this year’s reunion.
     Carter Leibbrandt of Imperial is Nebraska’s representative of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and a member of the Pheasants Forever chapter.
    The annual reunion hunt is Leibbrandt’s local project. Each NYLC member must complete an annual project.         “Carter wanted to host the reunion hunt this year. The Pheasants Forever chapter members rallied with him to help host this unique event,” Francis said.
    “He enjoys sharing his love of the outdoors and sharing our hunting heritage with his peers as well as with new and seasoned hunters,” she added.
    The Southwestern Nebraska PF Chapter’s Reunion Hunt has quickly become a new tradition, Francis said.
    “Seeing the excitement from this chapter and the participation from past mentors and mentees is refreshing” said Kelsi Wehrman, Pheasants Forever Nebraska State Coordinator.
    “These events are inspiring for all the mentors out there thinking about the new hunters they have taught over the years,” she added.
     The Youth Mentor Hunt program is a partnership with Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and would not be possible without the hard work and dedication from chapter volunteers, Francis said.
    Since 1996, the Youth Mentor Hunt Program in Nebraska has had close to 15,000 graduates and over 1,000 events.
    For more information on events in Nebraska, visit
    Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members in 725 local chapters across the United States and Canada.


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