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A natural-born wing-shooter

I’ve seen some pretty memorable displays of wing-shooting over the past 40-plus years in Kansas’ hunting fields.  Monday I notched another “wow” display into my memory while watching Pfc. Dontrell Welch on his first-ever bird hunt.Pfc. Dontrell Welch with the first of many pheasants he shot on his first-ever bird hunt. He consistently hit birds more-experienced hunters missed amid high winds and extreme cold.His first rooster at Ringneck Ranch had been in the air for at least 60 yards with a very stiff wind at its tail. Welch folded it like a pair of clean socks when it passed 40 yards away.

A few covers later he notched a neat double when two hens flushed 30 yards away.

Boom, boom, thud, thud.

Several times he dropped birds after they’d been missed several times by experienced shooters.

And most of the birds he shot hit the ground stone-dead. And he was shooting a borrowed 20 gauge with a full choke.

A quiet 29-year-old, Welch eventually said he’d spent much of his life hunting deer, squirrels, wild hogs and raccoons in his native Georgia. As for his great display of shotgunning Welch said he wasn’t really thinking or aiming, just concentrating on the bird and hitting the trigger. Several people there, me included, told him he has a natural-born gift for shotgunning.

He was on the preserve pheasant hunt as part of  a Fort Riley program that gives guys like Welch a chance to spend some informal time with higher-ranking soldiers.

You can read about the program and the hunt on Sunday’s outdoors page.