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Military veterans take part in pheasant hunt

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RENSSELAER FALLS — Pete Barnes was excited Sunday when he and other military veterans, accompanied by a guide and a trained dog, entered the fields at Basswoods Lodge and Hunting Preserve, Rensselaer Falls, and took aim at some pheasants that were bought just for them.

“It’s awesome. My adrenaline was flowing. When you hear the sound of wings, that’s an adrenaline rush,” Mr. Barnes said as he and fellow hunter Joe McCarthy posed for a picture behind a row of pheasants that had just been bagged.

This was Mr. McCarthy’s third year of pheasant hunting at Basswoods Lodge; it was Mr. Barnes’s first time.

He said he heard about the Soldiers Hunt, which was open to military veterans and active-duty soldiers, from Mr. McCarthy. Thirty-seven veterans participated in the hunt at both Basswoods Lodge and another lodge, Wild Wings Shooting Preserve in Oswegatchie.

The pheasants were let loose in the fields, and pointer dogs, trained to hunt pheasants by recognizing their breathing, pushed them from the brush as hunters shot.

By the time Mr. Barnes and Mr. McCarthy had finished their hunt with two other veterans, they had each brought down three.

Bruce E. LaFlair, Ogdensburg, and his friend Steve A. Geddes, Morristown, hunted eight pheasants with Ellie, an English pointer.

“This is the first time I hunted pheasant,” said Mr. LaFlair, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1982. “It’s amazing to see what these dogs can do. I just enjoy watching them.”

River Valley Gun Dog Club President Kenneth J. Tynon said the hunt was a collaboration between Wild Wings Club, Ogdensburg, Basswoods Lodge and the River Valley Dog Gun Club, Ogdensburg. The hunt was free and sponsored by several north country businesses.

“I probably never would have had the opportunity to do something like this — hunt with the dogs — if it weren’t for the club,” Mr. LaFlair said.

The River Valley Dog Gun Club had also sponsored a free pheasant hunt for children on Saturday.

“We like to do 40. We struggled and managed to get 37,” said Larry Kring, a member of the River Valley Dog Gun Club.

This is the third year they’ve held the soldiers hunt as a way to thank all veterans, Mr. Kring said.

“It was an idea we had three year ago to kind of say thank you to veterans. We decided we wanted to give back to any veterans, not just Wounded Warriors. They don’t have to be a combat vet, just a vet,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers reporter Amanda Purcell contributed to this report.

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