ESCANABA - I have a book in my office that I received for attending a "stakeholders" meeting in Marquette three years ago. The title of the book is "The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports".
This 254 page research document was composed from data obtained through interviews of people involved with hunting and the shooting sports, including those who had left the activity for one reason or another. It was developed by Mark Duda, Executive Director of Responsive Management and in cooperation with the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The purpose of the book is to provide research-based recruitment and retention strategies and was utilized by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan.
Most of the time respondents that had left the sport of hunting or shooting did so for two primary reasons: 1) Lack of companionship afield and 2) Lack of access to areas where they could hunt and shoot.
There are a myriad of other lesser causes that attribute to a decline in the outdoor sports participation including work obligations and financial constraints.
This weekend will address the first of the two primary negatives, as we hold National Hunting and Fishing Day in cooperation with the Youth In The Outdoors celebration.
Over the last decade, area conservation organizations have stepped up their efforts to provide an outstanding day of fellowship outdoors. All have come together at the Great Lakes Sports and Recreation Club on the fourth Saturday in September, to give kids (and parents) a real taste of the outdoors.
On this day, kids can try shooting shotgun and 22 caliber rifle. They can take aim at sporting clays or trap and skeet. Young archers, or prospective archers, can take shots at a 3-D course or straight target shoot. All shooting equipment, ammunition and fishing tackle is provided.
There will be fur handling by the UP Trappers, a fishing pond by the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen, and ATV/ORV introduction to riding by the Sportsmen's Off-Road Vehicle Association (SORVA) of Delta County.
Volunteers working the event include members of UP Whitetails Association, Inc., members of the Great Lakes Sports and Recreation Club, Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County, the Bays de Noc Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the New Page Sportsmen's Club. Certified range masters will also be present to assure that safety remains a priority for all involved. Eye and ear protection will be used on all ranges.
The event is sponsored by the same organizations with the addition of Ducks Unlimited, Bark River Knifeworks, the Community Foundation and more.
Russ and Mary Nelson of Bark River have chaired the event for over three decades. Efforts to increase participation were initiated about ten years ago and the attendance has grown from 50-60 kids average, to a record breaking 300 plus last year. The entire event is free to any child from ages 5 to 17 when accompanied by an adult. It includes lunch and prizes.
Even if you've been taking your children on outdoors adventures - or are considering doing so, this is a great opportunity to show a youngster what fellowship and conservation are all about. Those of you who may have given up on hunting, trapping, fishing or shooting could perhaps find a youngster (niece, nephew, granddaughter or grandson or neighbors kid) that is just aching to experience the outdoors. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bay Area have a long list of kids in need of adult companionship as well. First timers can also get a feel for what type of investment is necessary to get started and those you talk with will clearly explain the strong return on your investment.
Representatives from the Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division will also be on hand to visit with families and answer questions regarding regulations and requirements to hunt. You may even get a chance to see what sled dog riding is all about and the UP Raptors are hoping to show live predator birds too.
You'll be able to sign up for the next ATV/ORV Safety Class slated for Oct. 15. This is the last such class slated for the year for the area and will also inaugurate a new policy of hands-on experience, where the SORVA Practical Skills Track will be utilized the afternoon of the class from now on to complete training. Details on the event will be provided.
Prizes from area merchants will be handed out at the end of the day to those who attend and participate each exhibit.
National Hunting and Fishing Day / Youth in the Outdoors registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. ET and you must have completed attendance at all exhibits to be eligible for prizes drawn at the close.
The club is located off Danforth Road in Escanaba at 5211 19th Avenue North (in the Whitetail Industrial Park area). Their phone number is (906) 786-2911 Club membership information will also be available at the event.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.