Gunshots echoed Friday in rural Peabody as Hillsboro and Peabody-Burns students participated in a hunter education walk-through at Yoder Farm.
Farm owner Dennis Vincent has been volunteering to teach hunter safety for 30 years. He showed kids how to aim at clay pigeons by having them follow the targets in the air with their pointer fingers and then transferred that to the barrel of a rifle.
“That’s an extension of your finger,” he said. “Very rarely do we have a youngster not break a target.”
Vincent initially taught at Peabody Lakeside Country Club’s field day but moved his class to his homestead three years ago. His family sets up three stations — wing shot, BB shot, and pop-up shot — the day and night before. Kids rotate between the three stations to learn different aspects of hunting safety.
Kansas Wildlife and Parks provides decoys, earplugs, safety glasses, shells, and a few rifles for the day. The Pittman-Robertson Act, which is an 8% tax on firearms, helps pay for hunter education courses at no expense to schools or volunteers.
Marion County Quail Forever group provided lunch.
Anne Janzen, a hunter safety instructor for 20 years as well as a Hillsboro teacher, offered whichever student got the closest to a bull’s-eye at the BB gun station a treat back at her classroom.
The highlight of the course was the pop-up section. Groups of students were put in proper hunting formation (with no guns facing anyone’s backs or shoulders) and then taken through a section of land that had open field, a waterfront, and a homestead.
Decoys of various animals peppered the path. Instructors would yank them up by a string as they approached to test students’ reflexes.
Some were of animals that are illegal to hunt, such as owls and pheasant hens; others were at awkward places, such as a deer standing next to the tree line of a homestead. At the end of the walk, a game warden would approach and simulate asking for the kids’ licenses and the animals they shot.
When the course wrapped up, Vincent took the students to a 20-acre section of his property with virgin prairie grass and a buffalo herd.
Tyler Clements is training to be a hunter’s safety instructor and has been on hunts since he was 6 years old.
“I think it’s very important to pass this stuff on to the next generation,” he said.