With the Northwoods Youth Deer Hunting Challenge in the books for 2013, it was time to hand out the prizes and have a good time.
Cold weather and an important Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears game did not keep people away.
More than 400 packed the commons at Lakeland Union High School Sunday, Dec. 29, to celebrate.
The Minocqua Lions Club prepared and served dinner to attendees once again, taking on a long line of hungry hunters and their guests.
Before that dinner, youth hunters had an opportunity to share stories with each other and participate in the games and mini-seminars offered.
Challenges, seminars and stories
Youth hunters had some guessing games, a laser shooting game, an archery competition and more to enjoy at the banquet.
Harley Benson ran the Pope and Young Scoring Challenge. Kids got a chance to guess the Pope and Young score of a set of antlers. Benson guessed that there were at least 150 entries.
The buck scored 128-3⁄8.
“To come up with that, you use your inside spread, two main beam lengths, tine lengths from the top of the main beam and then there’s four circumference measurements on each side,” Benson explained.
The prize for the closest guess was a skull dipping.
“They can take their deer skull, or if they have a bear skull, and they’ll send it in and have it dipped,” Benson said.
The result is a skull with a pattern on it, such as camouflage or a number of other choices.
The prize was awarded after a drawing. Three participants guessed the score closely, coming up with 128.
Jane and Marv Smith hosted a contest in which youths tried to guess how many shotgun pellets were in a jar.
It was hard to judge, Jane noted.
“The winner was about ... 650, 700 off,” Jane said.
“Everybody came in low,” she added.
The winner took home a high-powered pellet gun.
Dave Walz, DNR conservation warden supervisor for four area counties, ran a laser shoot, which featured scenarios on a screen and allowed the shooter to make choices. The shoot is very popular, but it is also a teaching tool.
“In some of them, we have some ethical-kind of dilemmas there, where it’s ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ so the kids get to pick their shots,” Walz said. “You know, make sure you take the broadside shot and hopefully not the running shots.”
There may be scenarios with fences in the foreground or other objects. The idea is to get the kids to “look at the whole picture,” Walz said.
The game features a variety of different settings and wildlife.
Walz noted that there were no breaks for him while the laser shoot went on.
“It was a solid line,” Walz said. “Which is good. I don’t mind that.”
Marty Kipke put on a trapping seminar that was drawing interest from youths and adults alike. Marv Smith had a seminar on skinning.
Wade Wentland hosted a competitive archery shoot. The top three finishers took home gift certificates of $500, $250 and $150 from JD Archery in St. Germain.
On display at the banquet was the DNR’s “Wall of Shame,” which features ill-gotten trophies that were seized from poachers. Marv Smith also displayed an impressive standing grizzly mount.
Youth hunters had a chance to talk with others about successes and experiences of the hunt.
Porsche Wendler experienced her first deer season this year. She saw about four deer, and got one shot, but wasn’t able to recover the animal.
“I shot at one and I got it in the leg and it got away,” she said. They trailed the deer for two days.
Porsche enjoyed the hunting experience and expects to be back in the woods for next season.
Ten-year-old Dayton Haenel said his season was “pretty good.”
It was his first, and he tagged a buck during the two-day youth hunt in October. It was his first day deer hunting.
“It was really exciting seeing my buck and imagining shooting it and that’s actually what happened, so I was pretty happy about that,” Dayton said.
His buck was a three-pointer.
Football didn’t keep them away
Many on hand were missing an important Packers-Bears match-up to attend the banquet.
Lakeland Times Publisher and NYDHC committee member Gregg Walker asked at one point, “Does the crowd want me to announce the Packers game?”
The crowd did.
The Packers trailed the Bears 21-20 at the time, but would go on to win. The final score was announced later.
Challenge grows with support
Walker noted that the NYDHC had concluded its tenth year and has grown.
“When we started 10 years ago, I believe we had ... 30, 40 youth hunters. And our whole goal at that time was one thing – bring more young hunters into the sport.”
Walker’s announcement that the 2013 challenge drew 235 interested youths – the most ever – was met with applause.
Forty-eight of the entrants were 10- and 11-year-olds.
“That’s double the amount we had last year,” Walker said, drawing more applause.
Walker pointed out the willing support of many sponsors, saying, “I want to make it very clear – we don’t go out and solicit these donations. We send a letter reminding them that we’re doing this again and the money comes in.
“The individuals that sponsor this and support this believe in one thing, and that’s youth hunting. And they let us know it,” Walker added.
Among the many prizes that were a result of generous sponsor donations were 53 guns and about 200 additional prizes. Each participating youth took home something.
“I’ve been involved with countless charitable organizations in my lifetime and I have never seen anything like this my entire life,” Walker said. “The support we get is tremendous.”
Youth hunters can also apply for NYDHC scholarships, Walker said.
A moment of silence was observed for three fallen hunters whose families had memorials that were given to the NYDHC.
Zeke Jonas, Daniel Biwan and Brian Biever are those hunters.
Topping the gun season division was overall winner Chase Cator, who took an 11-pointer with and 18-inch inside spread which netted a total score of 29.
Hannah Ahlborn took the second spot, downing a 10-pointer with an inside spread of 16-1⁄4 inches for a total score of 26.25.
Connor Nicklaus’s nine-pointer, with a 16-1⁄2-inch spread, was good enough to secure third place in the division.
There was a tie atop the archery division. Buddy Duranso and Mya Towne both harvested eight-pointers with 15-inch inside spreads. They had identical scores of 23.
Jackson Doebler took third in the archery division. His eight-pointer had a 14-1⁄2-inch inside spread, giving him 22.5 total points.
In the mentor division, Sydney Lurvey had the top buck. Her big nine-pointer had an inside spread of 15-1⁄8 inches, giving her a score of 24.125.
Trevin Walkowski took second, harvesting an eight-pointer with a 10-inch inside spread for a score of 18.
Third place was a tie in the mentor hunt division. Jacob Borak and Judson Bybee both finished with 14.5 points.
Jacob took a six-pointer with an 8-1⁄2-inch inside spread and Judson killed a four-pointer with a 10-1⁄2-inch inside spread.
Topping the muzzleloader division was Jacob Pagels. He took a four-pointer with a 12-3⁄4-inch inside spread, which netted him 16.75 points.
There was a tie for second place in the division. Morgan Courtney and Riley Curtis both took does during the muzzleloader season.
The top three bucks overall from the gun, archery and muzzleloader divisions, and the top buck in the mentor division, earned free shoulder mounts courtesy of North Country Taxidermy.
Chase Cator, Hannah Ahlborn, Connor Nicklaus and Sydney Lurvey had the top four scores overall.
Dennis Rinehart of American Institute of Taxidermy donated rack mounts to all participating youths who got bucks.
The NYDHC was developed in 2004 with the purpose of keeping youth hunters interested in carrying the tradition of hunting into adulthood.
Oneida, Vilas and Iron county 12- to 17-year-olds are eligible to participate (18-year-olds are eligible if still in high school). Youth ages 10-11 who hunt under Wisconsin’s Hunting Mentorship Program may participate in the mentored hunt division.
Deer can be harvested from Vilas, Oneida, Iron, Price, Forest and Lincoln counties. Successful hunters register their deer and fill out a NYDHC entry form.
If interested in becoming a committee member, a mentor or a sponsor for the eleventh annual NYDHC, call Gregg Walker or Heather Holmes at 715-356-5236.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com.