For Sean Honer, who has two sons and a daughter who are all into hunting, being able to pass on the upland bird hunting tradition to his children is extremely important.

Practicing conservation is a key part of that, as well as providing opportunities to get outside.

“I could never carry a gun again and just walk behind my sons and watch the dogs work and die a happy man,” Honer said. “The joy I get from passing on what my dad and grandfather taught me to my sons is what it's all about.”

Part of passing on that legacy has been his work to make Council Grove a better place for young hunters to improve their skills.

Honer helped organize Council Grove High School’s trap-shooting team, a process that involved getting sanctioned by the Kansas high school shooting sports association, as well as bringing a proposal before the Unified School District 417 school board and Council Grove City Council.

“I had never shot organized trap until I was in my mid-20s working Westar in Wichita, when a mentor of mine at work, Mark Darland, asked me to come and shoot with them,” Honer said. “I fell in love with the sport, and tried to share it with anyone willing to take the time to try. The churches in the surrounding areas would have turkey shoots on fall weekends, which provided another opportunity to showcase your skills.

“I have three children that love to shoot, as well as my wife. Even though we have a place to go and a trap thrower of our own, I really wanted to share the experience of trap shooting with my hometown.”

Honer said there were some guys in town who shot on a regular basis in Manhattan and gave him some advice on getting started, even offering to help volunteer. But they also had other responsibilities in the community that they had to devote their time and attention to, as well.

So Honer took the initiative to push for the club on his own. He presented the idea to the Council Grove athletic director, and soon the motion was put before the school board. After a few questions were answered, the motion passed and the team was born.

However, that wasn’t the end for Honer’s efforts to improve his community.

Council Grove hadn’t had a trap range in 20 years, according to Honer, and the one that was there was owned by a private citizen who had since died.

Honer consulted his neighbor, Mark Brooks, for advice on a new location. Brooks is an avid trap shooter, city council member and a school bus driver, along with a town historian and curator at the Kaw Mission, so if anybody had their finger on the pulse of the city, it would be him.

“I asked his advice for a location,” Honer said. “He mentioned a few, and I looked them over, settling on a plot of land owned by the City of Council Grove near our city lake. After presenting to the council and several discussions and meetings later, along with all the appropriate legalities out of the way, they approved our site.”

So far, they’ve gotten a good start to building the shooting range — called the Headwaters Trap Range — into a great destination, but were hindered a bit by only being able to have one fundraiser in 2019, which took place in August on the 3 1/2-acre plot located north of the Council Grove City Lake along Lake Road.

“But we hope to raise funds, to buy materials to go along with all the great volunteers to eventually have a location that our youth and community can enjoy for years to come,” Honer said.

And those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in the community, either.

Phil Taunton, host of KVOE Radio’s "What’s in Outdoors" show and an organizer of Fishing’s Future and other youth-oriented organizations, said Honer’s contributions have been vital for the future of the sport in Council Grove. Taunton lives in the community and absolutely loves to see the hunting and fishing tradition being passed on to the younger generations.

“Sean Honer’s family, from his grandfather, Dutch, to his son, Caden, represent four generations of the most fantastic ambassadors to the Great Outdoors I have ever met and are quite an inspiration to all that know them,” Taunton said.

 

Upland banquets

For those in the area who enjoy upland bird hunting, be sure to check out the Lyon County Quail Forever banquet and auction on Feb. 1 at the Anderson Building in Emporia. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 for a single, $70 for a couple and $10 for children 13-17 years old. Children 12 and under get in free.

For more info, contact Nik Roth at 620-794-3998.

The Flint Hills chapter of Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation will also have its 2020 annual banquet and auction April 4 at the Morris County Fair Building, 612 US-56 highway in Council Grove.

For more info, go to www.fhquwf.com.