By Ben Gruber
You only have a few days left to get signed up for the KAMO Waterfowl Weekend. On Aug. 19-20, Kids and Mentors Outdoors (KAMO) is putting on a clinic out at the Mead Wildlife Area open to folks of any age interested in learning about waterfowl hunting or becoming more efficient wing shooters. Email us at KAMOMarshPoint@gmail.com as soon as possible if you are interested.
Here is the skinny on what we do.
Day one, we gather up local celebrities and experts of their craft to teach stations related to waterfowl hunting. Participants will have an opportunity to take part in duck banding first thing in the morning. A large number of wild ducks will be trapped. Then we will remove them, place a unique research band on a leg, and return them to the wild. Some time down the road, a hunter may harvest that bird and report the location and other data, allowing scientists to follow duck population trends and travel habits, giving us a chance at better and more efficient science-based management.
Following that early morning adventure, we will head inside for some pancakes and a little classroom time and then go back outside for a tour of a wetland with some insights from local biologists and game managers on what our wetlands do for us and migratory birds. Everyone will get a chance to scoop some swamp muck, dig around in it, and identify some favorite protein sources for ducks.
While we are close to the water, it is time for some canoe familiarization and safety. Everyone gets to put on a life jacket and paddles a canoe around for a bit. I will be in the water too to make sure that no one gets stuck in the mud when they tip over.
Next we will head back to dry land where we will be treated to a goose decoying and calling demonstration by a local legend. I say that because two years ago during the youth hunt, I watched — and heard — him call a goose down from so far away I actually thought it was an orbiting satellite. There were other hunting groups all around him, and he was so convincing and persistent on that goose call that the goose set his wings and glided right into his decoys. This is the guy you want teaching you to call geese.
Somewhere in this day we will feed you some lunch and try to have you done mid-afternoon.
Sunday comes the shooting. Plan on shooting a lot of shells and a lot of clay birds. We teach a state-approved wing shooting course that endeavors to increase efficiency of folks targeting flying birds with shotguns. This is a fantastic day for new folks but also a good course for someone that has been hunting with a shotgun for a while. We will shoot almost all day with different stations and things to try.
After the weekend is over, if you think you would like to try waterfowl hunting, we will match you up with an experienced mentor that will coordinate a time during the season. We have all required gear supplied for the weekend and will also find you what you need to get out with a mentor and hunt too. Remember, this is open to anyone, all ages, wanting to learn about waterfowl hunting.
Many of us KAMO mentors spent the last two days selling brats and burgers at a food stand to raise money for this weekend. We put a lot of work and passion into it, and we have some open spots remaining.
We would love to see you or your children there. You with your children is even better. Make it a family weekend.
Ben Gruber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.