DOBSON — The Tri County Ridge Runners of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s “JAKES Youth Field Day” at Fisher River Park Saturday was centered around making family memories in the outdoors.
Ridge Runners President Lee Freeman explained “JAKES” stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship. Many of the activities including a fishing derby, crafts, firearm safety, muzzle loading and offerings represent skills once more common in what was a largely rural nation.
“We have had awesome sponsors to make all of this possible,” said Freeman in recognizing the efforts of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Harris Custom Calls, the U.S. Sportsman Alliance and Weyerhaeuser. Popular events which continued in the new venue this year included the annual catfish derby, and federation scholarships. He said the group also typically holds five such youth events open to the community for free which center on deer, dove and squirrel hunting.
“I am also proud 90 percent of our stations here have instructors from our membership,” said Freeman. “The .22 rifle shoot, trophy shoot and crafts are mostly all done by our chapter members.”
Freeman said he is puzzled by the exact causes for what has amounted to a decline in children participants over the past few years. He said in the past the outings had drawn more than 200 participant at times, but recent outings have drawn numbers closer to 100.
He explained the switch to Fisher River this year represented a chance for the group to offer shooting instruction in rifle, BB gun and basic muzzle loading and said the group was proud to offer trophies and prizes for many of the divisions. Twenty-five-year foundation veteran Jim Jordan agrees with Freeman’s emphasis on teaching now for the future.
Jordan specializes in making arrowheads out of all sorts of materials, even Mountain Dew bottles. While starting in the craft as a child, Jordan began to concentrate on the art more than 10 years ago. His work has allowed him to take wild game such as deer and groundhogs.
“Youngsters are the future hunters who keep the sport alive,” said Jordan. “You have to look after them.” Persons may obtain more information on the group on Facebook, at 336-244-4430 or at email@example.com.
Dave Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.