Young hunters in the Salina area will get a chance to learn how to shoot, clean and eat upland birds next month, thanks to a Kansas conservation group.


The Saline County Uplanders chapter of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is hosting its Shoot, Clean, Eat youth pheasant hunt from 9 a.m. to noon March 14 at Gypsum Sporting Clays, 7702 Niles Road in Gypsum, about 1 mile south of K-4 highway. The chapter has purchased 100 roosters that will be released for the hunt.


What makes this event different from many youth hunts, according to organizer Ed Viar, is that the hunt will be followed by a bird-cleaning clinic at around 10:30 a.m., and then a pheasant cooking demonstration and tasting.


"Hopefully we’ll have enough members there that we can break off a little early before we get done and start doing that just to keep everybody around," Viar said of cleaning the birds.


The event is free and open to any youths under 18 who are old enough to safely handle a shotgun, though reservations are required to ensure there is enough equipment for everyone. Shotguns and shells will be provided, and hunters are asked not to bring their own guns.


"We start them out on shooting clays first," Viar said. "Everybody will have a certified instructor down there to help them on shooting clays, and then generally we let them make the decision if they’re old enough to come over then on the south side there to shoot pheasants. If the instructors don’t think they’re quite old enough yet and we get kids that get in a hurry kinda and want to do it before they can hold a shotgun safely, we kinda have to weed that out."


Viar said there will be transportation to take the kids from the shooting range to the hunting area and back again to cook and clean the pheasants.


"We just do the pheasant shooting in kind of a CRP field that’s on the south side of where the shooting clay range is," Viar said.


The chapter has several other upcoming events planned for the rest of the year, including:


• A youth shooting clinic beginning at 5 p.m. May 3 at Saline County Fishing Lake.


• An outdoor youth festival in August at the Smoky Hill Weapons Range in Salina. The actual date has yet to be set, but Viar said it is usually around the 21st.


• The final youth shooting clinic of the year, tentatively set for 5 p.m. Sept. 13 at Saline County Fishing Lake.


Viar also said that up to $500 in funding is available to farmers and landowners through the chapter for upland bird habitat work. Those wishing to apply for that grant can apply by contacting Kenny Meyer at 785-452-1874 or Chris Fritz at 785-577-6133.


For more information on the youth hunt or to RSVP, contact Ed Viar at georgeviar1958@gmail.com or by phone at 785-822-2782, or check out the chapter’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/salinecountyuplanders/.


Waterfowl


For those late-season waterfowlers, snow geese are starting to move back into the Midwest in large numbers this week.


Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, formerly Squaw Creek, in Mound City, Mo., counted nearly a million total geese on its wetlands as of Tuesday, including 928,721 snow geese, 41,290 Ross’ geese and 1,238 Canada geese, which are no longer in season. Many of those birds cross state lines during the day into parts of northeast Kansas.


Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Kansas counted 57,000 light geese and 45,000 dark geese as of its Feb. 6 survey. In its Feb. 11 survey, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Kansas counted 32,300 light geese.


The Conservation Order extended season for light geese kicked off on Monday, meaning hunters can shoot as many light geese as they want as there is no bag limit during this portion of the season. This is a means of population control, as light geese are wildly overpopulated. Hunters are also allowed to use unplugged shotguns and electronic game calls during this time.


DU Firearm Frenzy


Waterfowlers also will have a chance to bid on some new firearms and help with conservation during the Topeka Ducks Unlimited Firearm Frenzy from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Sunrise Optimist Club, 720 N.W. 50th.


Forty guns will be raffled off during the event, with the first gun raffled off at noon and another gun raffled every four minutes after that.


Tickets for the event are $25 for a single ticket or $100 for eight. Each ticket is eligible for food, beer and nonalcoholic drinks, as well as entry into the raffle. Tickets may be purchased at https://www.ducks.org/kansas/events/.


For more information about that event, contact Cheech Kehoe, 802-233-1472, or Thad Wende, 785-845-5210.


Crappie tourney on tap


The first tournament of the Kansas Crappie Trail season is set to kick off March 7 on Hillsdale Lake. This marks the trail’s first year on the Crappie Masters circuit.


Registration begins at 5:30 a.m. at the Jayhawk Marina, and the entry fee is $100, plus a $35 membership fee. Fishing hours are from safe light to 2:30 p.m.


The best seven fish for each two-man team will be weighed (must be alive and a minimum of 10 inches long), and payback goes to the top three spots, as well as a big fish winner.


For more information, contact tournament organizer Dylan Faulconer at KansasCrappieTrail@yahoo.com or 913-416-3481.