By Nick Docken
For The Cordova Times
Sixteen Cordova youth came out to the Cordova Trap and Gun Club for a weekend of learning about the joys and responsibilities of waterfowl hunting. With a little classroom time to start things off Saturday and Sunday, hands-on activities followed with learning about building blinds, setting out decoys, blowing duck calls, gun dog training and lots of shotgun shooting practice.
Retired state waterfowl biologist Tom Rothe and former Hunter Education coordinator for the state Lee Rogers came down from Anchorage to help lead the class. Other locals from the Trap and Gun Club, Copper Delta DU chapter and US Forest Service helped coordinate the event and teach the youth. The instructors were passionate about waterfowl and about passing on waterfowl hunting heritage to the next generation.
It helped having beautiful weather for this event but seeing joy in the youth’s faces throughout the event was priceless. Andy and Kate Morse brought their black Lab, Waylon, on Sunday and talked about responsibilities of owning a retriever. The students enjoyed throwing training dummies and watching a well-trained retriever in action during Andy’s demonstration. Nichols Back Door store donated lunch items and the kids even got to taste test some grilled snow goose and mallard that instructors donated for the event.
Students learned about patterning their shotgun, tactics for setting out decoys and making loud noises on duck calls but they seemed to enjoy all the hands on shooting the most. Tom and Lee have been teaching youth the art of shotgun shooting for a long time and it was evident as students became better shots as the clinic progressed. Students got to shoot at incoming clay targets, going away targets, fast cross shots and on the last day everyone shot an official round of trap and skeet at the clubs range.
All in all, what a great event getting some local youth outside and involved in a great Alaska tradition. It was perfect timing right before Sept. 1, the start of the waterfowl-hunting season in Alaska.
Youth ages 16 and older are required to have a hunting license accompanied by a state duck stamp. The Federal duck stamp is no longer required for qualified permanent rural Alaska residents in Cordova.