Just ducky: Young Craig hunters bag birds through CPW, Colowyo | CraigDailyPress.com

Just ducky: Young Craig hunters bag birds through CPW, Colowyo

From left, Will McStay, Nicholas Crookston and Wyatt Dade display the waterfowl successfully harvested during a hunt through Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colowyo.

A group of Craig kids learned that a different kind of hunting than they're used to is indeed all it's quacked up to be.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colowyo Mine recently teamed to provide area youths with a waterfowl hunt. The trip, which took place in late September, was an effort to promote the sport of hunting ducks and other birds in Northwest Colorado.

"The biggest obstacle is getting the opportunity," said Evan Jones, a CPW district wildlife manager for the region. "With fowl, it's such a small window of time to hunt, then it gets cold, and all the birds fly out and leave."

CPW organizers consulted Moffat County 4-H for which kids would be good candidates for such an activity, keeping in mind that those selected should have a hunter's safety course under their belts, as well as some proficiency with firearms.

The lucky ducks picked for the expedition were Nicholas Crookston, 14, Will McStay, 12, and Wyatt Dade, 11.

The boys were guided by Jones and Terry Wygant, both with CPW, as well as Tony Tennyson, with Tri-State, on Colowyo land south of Craig near the Big Bottom area.

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"All the folks involved went above and beyond," Jones said.

The wet terrain was one that was a big change for Wyatt, who has grown used to the high country on horseback while hunting big game.

"It was really swampy down in the flats," Wyatt said of the area.

Wyatt and his younger brother Cody are both part of the 4-H shotgun team, which meant he had a good handle on the shooting part of the hunt. Other parts were a little more of an adjustment.

"It's luck because you're sitting in a blind next to a pond with decoys, it's a real waiting game," he said.

Even so, persistence paid off as he claimed five fowl during the day, out of a total nine the group harvested.

Wyatt identified the species as blue-winged teal and gadwall, partly due to a book of North and South American birds that was part of a gift package given to each of the young hunters.

"It was really fun, because I was taught a lot," he said. "I went in there not knowing anything, but I learned how to call them and things like that. The rest is a lot of aim and shoot."

Wyatt added his thanks to Elk Ridge Outfitters, as well as Colowyo and CPW for the opportunity to do more of what he and his family believe is a crucial part of life in the region.

"It's good for new generations to hunt and supply food for the family," he said.