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Illinois hunting and fishing

Blake Streitmatter admires his pheasant as young hunters line up for pictures Friday. Chris Young/The State Journal-Register.

Princeville man opens his farm for youth pheasant hunt

November 28, 2010 at 07:43 AM

The State Journal-Register

PRINCEVILLE – Ted Gilles doesn’t just talk about reconnecting kids with traditions like hunting and fishing.

On Friday, Gilles opened up his 700-acre farm near Princeville, northwest of Peoria, so area children could learn about hunting in a safe, supervised environment.

Gilles expected a total of 150 children to take part in pheasant hunting Friday and today.

“I never thought I’d do this,” Gilles said, looking around at a sea of bright orange caps and vests.

This is the sixth year for the program. Gilles relies on about 20 volunteers each day. Ten of those are dog handlers who bring their dogs to point birds.

About half of Gilles’ 700 acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, a federal program that pays landowners to idle marginally productive land or ground prone to erosion.

Landowners plant grass or trees to stabilize the soil and provide wildlife cover.

Gilles said people were amazed at the wild pheasants he had attracted to his farm. So, when a teacher and coach from nearby Princeville asked to bring out some farm-raised birds, Gilles said he wasn’t so sure.

“He wanted me to hunt them with him,” Gilles said. “Instead, we found some kids to come out.”

The kids had a great time, and an idea was born.

“It kind of grabbed me, and I wanted to do more,” Gilles said.

Terry Spurgeon of Princeville brought his Brittany spaniel, Sally, and his German shorthaired pointer, Purdy, to point birds for the kids.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Spurgeon gave Blake Streitmatter, 12, a high-five after the boy downed a pheasant Friday morning.

“Everybody got a bird today, and one kid got two,” he says. “So they were cooperating.”

Streitmatter was admiring his bird while his hunting party lined up for a photo.

“It was great just being able to see the birds and having fun,” he said.

Spurgeon gave tips on safety as he walked with the kids and their parents through the fields.

He said he wants kids to be aware where their shotgun barrel is pointed and when it is safe to take a shot.

Illinois hunting and fishing

“In the wind, some birds fly low over the dogs after they flush,” he says. “The kids need to be aware of their hunting companions.

“Safety is the main thing.”

After the photos were taken, it was time for another group of 25 young hunters to take to the field.

“I want them to appreciate the outdoors,” said Nick Ripley, president of the Illinois River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Those who hunt and fish contribute to conservation efforts by buying licenses, stamps and other permits, he said. They also are the ones most likely to take on the work of habitat restoration, as Gilles is doing on his farm.

“We’re trying to bring along the next generation of outdoorsmen,” he said.

Gilles said Doug and Diane Oberhelman – Doug Oberhelman is president of Caterpillar Inc. – are major sponsors of the hunt.

Kemp Manufacturing Co. of Peoria and the Illinois River Valley chapter of Pheasants Forever also provide key support, along with individual donations.

“With 150 kids over two days, I don’t know if there is anywhere in the world where there is a youth hunt of this size,” Gilles said.

“The parents and grandparents are just as excited as the kids when one of them gets a bird,” he said. “It’s the kind of feeling that is better when the kids get them.”

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.Illinois hunting and fishing

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Lord Bless Mr Gilles!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/29 at 09:43 AM

Kudos to you sir. If more land owners would think about our youth and not just dollars the youth may have a chance.Most youth dont stand a chance in you no what of getting involved in hunting all becauce of the mghty dollar.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/01 at 03:10 PM

Thanks Mr. Gilles for making a bunch of kids happy. Years back you would see young kids walking the tracks out your way looking to maybe get a shot at a bird and maybe a rabbit. Those days are about gone and Thanks to you some kids got to do what we took for granted way back when.  You get A BIG ATTA BOY

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/03 at 01:43 PM

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