Spring break is a time when students relax, recoup and reload for the final leg of the school year. For Gina Phillipsen, it was a time to reload … a 12-gauge shotgun.
The Ponderosa sophomore spent several days of her break from school in Seneca, South Dakota hunting pheasant at the R&R Hunting Resort — having won a contest that each year rewards one student from El Dorado County for achieving a report card with Bs and above.
The contest idea, hatched several years ago on a visit to the resort by Placerville residents Greg and Ann Pasiuk along with R&R owner Sal Roseland, aims to tie together academic achievement with the enjoyment of shooting sports.
For Gina, the trip was the first time she’s ever hunted though she had handled a gun previously — target practice with her dad, Paul, and shooting with the El Dorado County Youth Trap Team. Gina had experience firing a 20-gauge shotgun but not the 12-gauge. Paul accompanied his daughter to South Dakota.
“My dad is really interested in hunting and I enjoy shooting so I decided to give it (hunting) a try,” Gina said. “It was really cold (6 degrees one day) but the lodge was really nice. So secluded and peaceful.”
Paul, who has hunted pheasant in California and travels once a year to Wisconsin in search of ruffed grouse, called the South Dakota outing a “trip of a lifetime.”
“Since it was toward the end of the season and the weather turned unseasonable cold, there were guests who didn’t show up and we had all the amenities to ourselves,” Paul said. “It was better than advertised … there’s isn’t enough superlatives to describe it!
“Pheasants were everywhere. The population was much bigger than California — not that they’re easier to get but the (better) opportunity was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he added.
Gina described the routine as waking up to a hearty breakfast, going out in the morning to shoot with guide ‘Jeff,’ coming in for lunch and heading back out if limits weren’t reached. Dinner was at the lodge and down time was filled with playing pool.
Gina sampled creamed pheasant but her preference is pheasant in stews and tamales. Her future plans are to stay with trap shooting and hunt every once in a while with her dad.
She’s the third winner of the contest , directly after Brock Boyd and Madi Aliff. The Phillipsens returned with processed pheasant breasts — cleaned and frozen, then vacuum-packed in insulated bags for consumption at a later date.
R&R provides shotguns and ammunition, dogs and guides. The winner is responsible for transportation to and from the lodge. The hunt takes place during September 2013. At least 30 days prior to commencement of the hunt, the student-winner must have documentation showing successful completion of an approved California hunter safety course.
Contest entry consists of a Xerox copy of an official report card with the student’s phone number. Contest entry rules, procedures and entry boxes are available at the Big Horn Gun Shop (530-642-1892) and Newtown Firearms (530-626-9945).
Students who are unable to visit one of the entry box locations can mail their entries to Big Horn Gun Shop, 6271 Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado, CA 95623 by the June 12 deadline.
To view the lodge and hunting facilities, visit r-rpheasanthunting.com.