Hunting & Heritage  |  06/18/2024

Teamwork Makes the Diversity Dream Work

Learn to Hunt students and members of the Dodge County Pheasants Forever chapter, who mentored and supplied dogs for the Color in the Outdoors-Minority Outdoors-Pheasants Forever hunt. Christopher Kilgour of Color in the Outdoors is pictured on the far right.

PF on the Landscape: Creating new hunters in Dodge County, Wisconsin

By John Motoviloff

It is often said that “many hands make light work” and that “teamwork makes the dream work.”

However it is phrased, the nugget behind these maxims gets to an underlying truth: Big jobs are best tackled with a group of committed partners.

It was in just that spirit which Color in the Outdoors and Minority Outdoors Alliance embarked with Pheasants Forever on the planning and execution of the Upland Hunting Camp held December 15-17, 2023 in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

Developed via in-person and virtual meetings, this weekend had all the challenges of a typical Learn to Hunt event. As Pheasants Forever’s Wisconsin R3 and Outreach Coordinator, I helped to secure a safe and high-quality hunting and shooting venue. Shotguns had to be oiled and in good working order just as Wisconsin DNR approvals needed to be secured.

But most importantly, a cadre of understanding, experienced mentors was needed to help these new hunters (most of whom were people of color) on their journey. Not surprisingly, Pheasants Forever’s Dodge County Chapter #262 - which has run adultfocused hunts for the last several years - was ready to help.

“Color in the Outdoors and Chris do amazing work. It’s great having an organization like Chris’s to partner with and help share what we love about the outdoors,” said chapter president TJ Wendel.

But it was ultimately Christopher Kilgour, founder and director of Color in the Outdoors, who set the tone for the weekend. Kilgour — who proudly identifies as multiracial — is passionate about creating a safe space for new hunters, and that is the primary mission of this organization. Dovetailing with Kilgour’s efforts, Yannick Powder of Minority Outdoors Alliance assisted with camp logistics and shared his experience as an adult-onset hunter of color.

According to Kilgour, “Partnerships like this one are critical for the future of hunting. Pheasants Forever does a great job mobilizing chapter and R3 expertise, while organizations like Color in the Outdoors provide additional expertise and support as well as a safe and welcoming space for new hunters who may not represent what has been perceived historically as the ’traditional‘ hunter.“

After arriving on a foggy Friday evening to a hearty spaghetti dinner, students lodged in the upstairs of the 5,000 square foot Color in the Outdoors lodge and classroom. In the morning, breakfast was followed by classroom basics like habitat and regulations.

Then a caravan of vehicles made the half-hour drive to the Beaver Dam Conservationists Club. Time at the trap range was followed by lunch and a pheasant hunt. Birds were pointed by hardworking dogs, with some pheasants harvested and others missed. But, at the end of a cold and soggy day, chapter members and new hunters were laughing and joking like old hunting friends.

Saturday night at camp was punctuated by the sound of hunters snoring, ready to get up the following morning and do it all again, and apparently feeling very comfortable.

hunter shows off pheasant
Learn to Hunt Student Jasmine Banks shows off her first pheasant. Yannick Powder of Minority Outdoors Alliance was Jasmine’s mentor.

According to Learn to Hunt student Jasmine Banks: “As a firsttime hunter I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I look forward to continuing to connect with these organizations to increase my awareness and comfort level with hunting.”

John Motoviloff is the R3 Outreach Coordinator for Pheasants Forever in Wisconsin

This story originally appeared in the 2024 Summer Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a member today!