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Time to sign up for veterans pheasant hunt Mike Bleech / Contributing writer

Erie Times-News - 9/16/2017

WEB STORY

So many good things can be said about the Annual Veterans Day Hero Salute Pheasant Hunt. Good times. Camaraderie. Fresh air. Good food. Being introduced to various new activities. Generosity. Appreciation. Meeting old friends. A day with people of similar experience. Giving back. Enthusiasm. America at its finest. And we could go on.

This year it will be the sixth annual veterans pheasant hunt, if I may shorten the title to the term most participants use. The date is Nov. 2, a Thursday. The place of the hunt is Buzzard Swamp, with veterans gathering at the Forest County Veterans Club at Marienville.

Since a successful beginning when the event was held at Buckaloons, participation has grown to about 80 veterans per year. Participation is limited, however, so register soon.

This event is undertaken by a partnership of the Kinzua Allegheny Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, the Allegheny National Forest, the Forest County Transportation Authority and veterans organizations from around the area.

"There are a ton of different vets clubs that contribute to us generously. In addition, the Forest County Vets Club, they host us, they feed us, and they contribute financially. Donations are trickling in now," said Kristen Schnepp-Giger, National Wild Turkey Federation biologist.

The mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation is "conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of our hunting heritage."

If you would like to thank those who laid their lives on the line for the U.S.A., you can provide financial support by making checks payable to Kinzua Allegheny Longbeards. Mail to Kristen Schnepp-Giger, 35 Arlington Drive, Warren, PA 16365. The National Wild Turkey Federation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. Tax receipts will promptly be issued for all donations.

"We stocked 400 birds last year. So that cost us $3,500. That's why we need donations," Schnepp-Giger said.

Both ring-necked pheasants and chukars are stocked for the hunt.

The vets hunt day begins by gathering at the Forest County Veterans Club, where veterans will also be fed for the day. Hunters will be transported by the Forest County Transportation Authority in three groups. After hunting they will be transported back to the club.

"The biggest question I'm going to be getting this year is "Am I going to need a pheasant stamp?" Schnepp-Giger said. "The answer is no. We got a one-day exception from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They will need a hunting license. They need blaze orange hat and vest. We prefer they bring their own shotguns."

Also, Schnepp-Giger suggested that participants dress for the weather. Comfort is important for enjoying the experience. Layering clothing is wise. Wear brush pants if you have them. Waterproof boots are recommended.

Gun raffles and merchandise raffles will be held throughout the day. Other entertainment is still in the planning stage. Archery is expected to return this year. This has encouraged at least one veteran to buy a hunting bow.

"We get local folks from Warren. We get folks from Erie; New York; Washington, D.C.; the Carolinas. Folks from all over are coming up here," Schneff-Giger said.

"We don't let folks bring their own dogs for a number of reasons."

This event is open to veterans and active duty military. Accommodations can be made for participants who use wheelchairs. There are questions on the registration form which help organizers place participants in the most suitable hunting areas. Last year vets from World War II right up to active duty participated, and likely from every military conflict since World War II.

Buzzard Swamp includes habitat that varies from open fields to brushy thickets and mature timber.

"We had some school-age kids last year and their interaction with the vets was terrific," Schnepp-Giger said.

The registration deadline is Oct. 9, a Monday. All registration forms must be received by this date to allow for planning. To get a reservation form, phone Schnepp-Giger at -814-450-1614, or email kgiger@nwtf.net.

Mike Bleech can be reached by email at mikeb73@verizon.net.

 
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