WINTON – When the crowd gathers here Saturday, Sept. 15 (10 am – 2 pm) for Hunting and Fishing Day staged annually by the Roanoke-Chowan Wildlife Club, many may not realize the significance of the ground they are standing upon.
The grist mill at Hare’s Millpond traces its roots back to the late 1700’s. A water-powered saw mill followed and there was once a general merchandise store located on the property, which adjoins the Chowan River. The Hare family home, built in 1779, was also on the property.
The R-C Wildlife Club members take pride in not only hosting the Hunting and Fishing Day event, but also preserving the natural beauty and historical significance of Hare’s Millpond.
“I’ve been in the club for the past 37 years and this event, by far, is something we look forward to each and every year,” said Jim Liverman. “Hunting and Fishing Day got started before I joined….I believe it’s been held annually for 40 years or more.”
“Hunting and Fishing Day is one of our two events each year that are opened to the public,” stated club member Mike Blowe. “We host Catch Day (a fishing event for children) in the spring and Hunting and Fishing Day in the fall. Both events are centered around the children.”
Both men said the importance of Hunt/Fish Day was to introduce young people to how to use a rod-and-reel and to safely fire a weapon.
“We had a survey about two to three years ago where of the 238 children to take part, over 200 had never fired a gun in their life,” Blowe noted. “It was not that way 30 years ago when it seemed everyone, all ages, had been around guns, and they knew how to fire them and how to be safe around them. It was just a way of life back then.”
Blowe also noted that the number of children and adults that fish and hunt are dwindling.
“The sales of hunting and fishing license in North Carolina have been declining for the past 30 years,” he stressed.
“A day like we’re having on Sept. 15 opens up a whole new avenue for our local citizens; we need to get more kids involved in hunting and fishing, and just getting outside to enjoy nature and our abundance of natural resources,” said Liverman.
Blowe pointed out that Hunting and Fishing Day will feature numerous wildlife oriented exhibits. They include interactive displays from the National Wild Turkey Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the NC Wildlife Resources Safari Trailer, Roanoke River Refuge, and Merchants Millpond State Park.
“The youngsters will be shown how to make duck calls and turkey calls,” Blowe remarked. “There are many, many hands-on activities for the children and adults to enjoy.”
Attendees will also be given an opportunity to take part in several events, to include an archery range, trap shooting, .22 rifle range, and riverboat tours.
Concessions will be offered for sale: hot dogs, hamburgers, snacks, baked goods, and soft drinks.
There will be a drawing for a youth model shotgun. Door prizes will be awarded.
Children are encouraged to attend, especially church groups, athletic teams and other kid’s organizations. Admission is free.
The R-C Wildlife Club is located at 126 Hare’s Millpond Road, off River Road between Winton and Tunis.
Hare’s Millpond is currently owned by the Blanchard family of Ahoskie, who lease it to the R-C Wildlife Club. It’s been in that family since 1918 when the property was purchased by the now late C. Lyman Jones.
Bill Blanchard, the grandson of Jones, said the original millhouse may have been destroyed during the Civil War. Evidence of a possible skirmish between the Confederates and the Yankees has been recovered on the property, to include cannonballs.
The millhouse was rebuilt and has been preserved over the years by the Blanchard family and the R-C Wildlife Club.
The original stones used for grinding corn are still at the millhouse. The water turbine once used to supply the energy to move the stones is now on display at Merchants Millpond State Park in Gates County.
Hare’s Mill was in operation until the late 1950’s.