Photos by Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
DNR Warden Tim Ebert discusses the deer mounts on the DNR Wall of Shame with Tony Leman.
Dennis Rinehart donated antler mounts to any youth who provided him with the antlers in time to have them mounted on a plaque before the banquet. This year he donated mounts to 15 youth. Pictured, from left to right are (front row) Dennis Rinehart, Zach Raatz, Carter Johnson, Chyce Nasi, Ayden Nasi, Max Bybee and JJ Albee. Back row: William Rozga, Sam Raatz, Dylan Marose, Donavin Schillinger, Henry Evenhouse, Joshua Shepard, Tyson Coy and Joshua Johnson.
1/7/2017 7:29:00 AM Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge fosters a love of hunting
The Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge celebrated its 13th year last weekend with over 200 youth hunters and their families taking part in the annual banquet at Lakeland Union High School. The Youth Deer Hunt Challenge was started to help foster a love of hunting in area youth as well as to recognize them for all of the effort and hard work that goes into hunting.
Lakeland Times' publisher and emcee for the evening Gregg Walker said that, as a community we celebrate with youth athletes in traditional sports such as football and basketball. Most communities take great pride in their sports teams. But youth hunters are seldom recognized for all of their hard work and preparation. Walker and the members of the NYDHC board wanted to create an event that would do just that. From that wish, the NYDHC was born.
Participation in the event has remained strong over the years, regardless of the natural ebb and flow in deer herd numbers, he said addressing the crowd of almost 500 people at the NYDHC banquet on New Year's Day.
Each youth who attended the banquet walked away with a prize of some sort, from a grab bag or hunting gear to ice fishing gear or one of more than 45 guns given away. Every youth, whether they were able to harvest a deer this season or not, were rewarded for their efforts in the woods. Walker, Travis Strasburg of North Country Taxidermy, Marv Smith of the NYDHC and Kurt Justice from Kurt's Island Sports presented each attendee with a prize through a random number drawing.
A number of guns were given away to youth in memory of other hunters, taken from the world too soon.
The Brian Biever memorial gun was awarded to Leah Herrick. This gun was a .270 Ruger with a scope. The Daniel Biwan Memorial .308 Savage was awarded to Tate Olson. The Danielle Gorectke memorial Remington .270 was awarded to Kade Sloan. The Zeke Jonas memorial weapon, a .308 Savage, was won by Alexander Fortier. Ethan Snyder was the lucky recipient of the Michael Jeffrey Wanty memorial 12-gauge, which was a Browning A5 auto. The Jeremy Ritchie memorial .257 Weatherby Vanguard was presented to Trevin Walkowski by Jeremy's parents, Nancy and Joe Ritchie.
All guns were registered to the parent of the winning youth before leaving the event.
The night started with several challenges in which the youth could get involved. In the gym at LUHS was an archery shoot, put together by Wade Wentland. There were three age categories for shooters and first through third place received a cash prize. In the 10- to 12-year-old category, JJ Albee took third place, Brayden Wiczek took second and Max Nomm took first. In the 13-15-year-old category, Cody Wolf took third, Judson Bybee second and Luke Wanty first. In the 16-18-year-old category, third place went to Justin Evenhouse, second to Jacob Pagels and first to Blair Dunbar.
There was also a clay pigeon guessing game, headed up by Marv and Jane Smith, where contestants took a guess at how many clay pigeons were packed into a jar. Eva Pasewald's sharp eye lead her to guess 264 pigeons, which was exactly how many were in the jar. Sam Pagels won the third challenge, which was to score a deer rack that was on display. His calculation of 113 was almost exact. The rack scored 113 1/8.
The Pope and Young Challenge was orchestrated by Harley Benson.
There was also a lazer shoot, which was hosted by the DNR and manned by DNR warden supervisor Dave Walz. Warden Tim Ebert was also on hand with the "Wall of Shame" which included mounts of deer heads confiscated from poachers and illegal hunters.
The Wisconsin Conservation Congress was present in an attempt to get more youth into the Conservation Congress. The youth Congress was started in 2009 in an attempt to get the next generation involved in decision-making where hunting is concerned. This Congress is for kids under 17 years old. The youth Congress now has 17 members, and is slowly growing every year. The hope is that as kids hit the age of 18 they will be interested in getting involved in the regular Conservation Congress. Many youth stopped by to talk with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress members and to learn more about what the Conservation Congress is and how it helps shape laws in relation to hunting and fishing in the state.
There were also other areas where youth and adults could learn more about various outdoor pursuits. Marty Kiepke demonstrated trapping techniques and spoke about learning to trap. Jim Rehm helped attendees learn about gun safety and proper cleaning and maintenance of firearms. Travis and Balie Strasburg of North Country Taxidermy were also on hand with a multitude of furs and information about how to prep an animal for the taxidermist. Closely related to this was Chris Thielman's display of fur prep and how hunters could complete small projects with a minimum of investment.
Truck Country, which is a major sponsor of the NYDHC, presented information to parents and youth as well. Any youth who thought they might be interested in a career as a diesel technician was given information about Truck Country's school, where they could become a freightliner-certified mechanic by completing the 10-month program. Students receive a wage while in school, and work for Truck Country while they are learning.
"They might start out as a clean up guy," said Roger Skemp of Truck Country. "We watch their work ethic and from there they work their way up. By the time they graduate from our school, they have all the skills they need."
Skemp said the company asks for a 24-month commitment from each graduate and provides each student, upon graduation, with a tool kit valued at over $12,000. The cost of the tools are paid over time through payroll deduction. During training, meals and lodging are also paid. The company saw there was a lack of diesel mechanics and took it upon themselves to create this school as an opportunity for kids graduating from high school to get the skills they need to embark on a career as a diesel mechanic.
The awards ceremony took place directly after dinner, which was provided by the Minocqua Lions Club. Awards were given in the following categories: gun season, archery season and mentored hunts (for 10- to 11-year-old hunters). Bryce Gilbertson took first place in the gun season results with a 10-point buck with an inside spread measuring 16.5 inches for a total of 26.50. Kara Sowinski placed second with her 9-pointer. Her buck measured 15.5 inches for a total of 24.50. Sierra Endel's buck, with a total of 24.25, put her firmly in third place. It was a 9-pointer that measured 10.5 inches. In the archery category, Dayton Haenel's 6-point buck put him in first place. Its inside spread measured 12 inches for a total of 18. Darin Bloomquist bagged a 2-pointer with an spread of 4.5 inches for a total of 6.5 points. Only three youth entered the archery category, with only two youth bagging a deer with that weapon.
There were a number of mentored hunters involved in the contest this year, giving hope that more people will continue to get into the sport of hunting.
Landen Herrick bagged a 9-point buck to put himself in first place in this category. The inside spread of his buck was 15.75 inches for a total of 24.75 points. Second place went to Max Nowak with 19 points from his 7-point buck with a spread of 19 inches. Miah Newport took third with her 6-point buck with a 10.5 inch inside spread for a total of 16.5 points. Dennis Rinehart donated antler mounts to any youth who provided him with the antlers in time to have them mounted on a plaque before the banquet. This year Rinehart donated mounts to 15 youth.
Gregg Walker and Marv Smith thanked all of the sponsors who make the NYDHC possible. Over 60 sponsors donated time, money and prizes for the youth who attended. Without sponsor support, the Challenge, and its associated banquet, would not be possible.
Several families were attending the event for the first time, and many had been involved for years. Regardless of the number of years of attendance, both parents and youth were excited to be involved and to meet other hunting families.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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