NWTF, sportsman’s club host annual field day

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The Shade Mountain Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation held its 20th annual Youth Field Day and JAKES event on Aug. 11 for 55 youths ages 8 to 15. The event comprises nine stations that the youth are rotated through to receive instruction and hands on experience.

The Shade Mountain Chapter could not continue to put this event on without the great support of the volunteers and organizations that make the event what it is. Each year we are thankful for the kids that show up to participate, and equally thankful for the parents and grandparents that are willing to set time aside and bring their kids (all participants are required to have an adult escort throughout the day).

The excitement that is produced when these participants get to actually have hands on experiences is contagious and you can see that in the proud parents and grandparents that I am sure hear about the favorite stations all the way home. The stations are a unique opportunity for the participants to get solid instruction and actual supervised hands-on opportunities.

This year, the stations were:

* Trapping: The Pennsylvania Trappers Association runs the station, which always has samples of various pelts and the kids are taught about responsible trapping. Brad Taylor, the Shade Mountain Chapter vice president, came up with the idea to remove the springs or coils from leg traps, which allows each participant to try their hand at making a good trap set in a safe controlled environment.

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* Fly tying and fishing stations are run by volunteers from Trout Unlimited. Larry Winery and his crew do a great job of interacting with the kids teaching them about fly fishing, the importance of clean water and instruction on fly tying, allowing each participant to tie a fly from scratch. The kids go down to the pond and fish, with even more Trout Unlimited folks there to offer instruction and helpful encouragement.

* The Standing Stone Muzzleloaders run the black powder station where each participant learns about the different types of black powder firearms, some history and then the opportunity to fire black powder firearms down range at targets.

* Amanda Isett of the Pennsylvania Game Commission offered her expertise teaching participants about firearm safety and wildlife crime scene investigation.

* The BB gun station is always fun for the kids, especially if they come in groups of friends or siblings, as they all try to see who is the best shot. For some reason it has been my experience that the girls tend to shoot better than the boys — nothing could be worse for a brother than to be outshot by his sister, but they do.

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The Mifflin County Sportsman’s Club, a great host, also ran the .22 rifle shooting station, where participants are taught about shooting mark with .22 caliber rifles. Each participant received one-on-one instruction as they took their turn plunking silhouette targets. Victory Matthews of the Shade Mountain Chapter also ran a .22 station; this is our chapter’s version of trap shooting.

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John Czerniakowski, the shade Mountain Chapter youth events coordinator, explained that when the chapter first started this event we tried using shotguns and thrown clay birds, but many of the kids were intimidated by the shotgun, so chapter member Don Geedey built a helium balloon release system and we now use .22 rifles shooting bird shot to allow the participants the opportunity to get the idea of tracking a target.

Jim Buchanan does a great job as he continues as the head cook and meal coordinator assisted by Barb Geedey and Pat Corbin.

Each participant walked away with a JAKES membership, an event T-shirt, a grab bag containing game calls and various other outdoor items.

In 1981, the National Wild Turkey Federation saw a need to get youth outdoors and began the JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) program.

JAKES programs are dedicated to informing, educating and involving youth in wildlife conservation and the wise stewardship of our natural resources. NWTF chapters provide youth ages 17 and younger chances to explore their outdoor world through fun events that help pass on the traditions of responsible hunting, teach the principles of habitat management, hunting ethics and safety.

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