Taking aim at fun!
Published 4:17 pm Friday, September 22, 2023
By BETTY F. JONES
WINTON – It was a picture-perfect day for the young, and the young at heart, to enjoy the great outdoors.
The Roanoke-Chowan Wildlife Club hosted its annual Hunt/Fish Day on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the historic Hares Millpond.
Whether they were on the bank or piers, anglers of all ages showed their skills as one after another fish was pulled or reeled in. Squeaks, squeals and an occasional “Oh no” filled the air. Smacks of high-fives were prevalent when an especially hard catch was conducted.
Some, satisfied by the hot dog and hamburger meals provided by the club, chose to watch and rest rather than participate in the events.
Those choosing the activities enjoyed Ruger 22 caliber rifle target shooting, various gauge shotgun skeet shooting, archery, canoe riding and a presentation by the Wildlife Resources Commission.
The latter was a demonstration that used the “shock boat” to bring fish to the surface. The crowd watched at Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Deon Kerr piloted the boat under the Mill House. Biologist Chris Smith shocked the fish and as they surfaced he scooped them up in a net and deposited them into the live well. They docked at the pier where a crowd awaited. As spectators lined up for a better look, Smith and Kerr showed the various fish types, giving brief information on each.
They do this, they said, to check the overall health and condition of the fish. They keep records of the types of fish as well as the location and concentration of them.
Kerr showed the kids the proper way to hold a fish saying, “You need to grip the large mouth bass by the lower lip to get control.” A couple of kids were brave enough to try to hold one.
Children alike enjoyed the archery part of the day’s events. A club member explained safety and gave instructions as well as help if needed. Stepping up to the line, a child loads the arrow and eyes the bullseye with an intense focus. As instructed by one of the members, she aims and lets the arrow fly. She is rewarded by a resounding “thunk” as it hits the target.
A little fellow in a hat was more comfortable with his dad’s help. Picking up the bow his dad carefully explained every step as he showed him what to do to ensure a good shot. With confidence making him seem as large as his dad, he aims and shoots while trying to remember all he was shown. He earned “Great job” comments from everyone.
There were hits and misses as the day wore on. A few of the children were familiar with archery and did not require aid. One little tyke in her stroller had had about enough fun on this gorgeous day and could not resist catching a little shut eye.
Small groups here and there were enjoying picnics and snacks while they took breaks.
Club members, Park Rangers and Wildlife Resource Commission staff were on hand to help with the Ruger 22 caliber rifle target shooting event. Offering helpful advice and encouragement to the young, they collectively combined their experience to teach each one.
You could feel the excitement of the kids in line waiting for their turn to shoot. Comments of “I can’t wait to get up there. I am going to beat everyone out here” could be heard. Another child fired back saying, “I will be better than you” showing good-natured rivalry.
Comments of “I don’t know if I can do this or not” from more timid souls were met with encouraging words. Responses of “Yes, you can. You can do this” from friends, family and the team were quickly given. This lent courage as they proved to themselves and everyone that they in fact could.
A member of the team sat with each child at the two tables as they took their turns shooting the targets. They waited with bated breath to see how well they had fared. Cheers from the crowd made each one feel like a winner. One young man scored a bullseye, making him a happy sharpshooter.
A Merchant Millpond State Park Ranger taught safety as he fitted life preservers on each canoeist. He briefed them on how to properly board while supervising them entering the canoe. Upon receiving their paddles, they were off on an adventure while exploring this beautiful millpond.
Grace Wiggins of Batter Up Bakery from Gates offered an array of delicious treats along with shirts for sale. Other vendors offered various items such as wooden bowls and cake stands. One vendor offered beautiful jewelry in a creative display. Triple C Ministries of Ahoskie presented an exhibit that informed people about their Ministry and summer camps. Another vendor was selling custom made artificial worms and lures.
Adults and older kids enjoyed shooting various gauge shotguns in the skeet shooting event. They fired at clay pigeons as they were released into the air. Members offered advice and help where needed. Lively conversations among participants included stories of guns they owned or hunts they had enjoyed. You could hear throughout the day multiple shotgun booms as each one tried to get a better shot than before.
A trailer from the Dream Hunt and Fishing Program founded by Terry Boyce of Elizabeth City was open to educate on waterfowl. It included different types of waterfowl with displays to show their type, habitat and general information on each. Tim Wadsworth staffed this station and helped with archery.
Numerous prizes including rod and reels were awarded. The prize for the largest fish in the girl’s category went to Sadie Turner. The prize for the largest fish in the boy’s category went to Reid Johnson.
Upon entering the grounds, tickets were given to the 86 kids that attended. Each were given a prize at the award ceremony. The $50 prize for the girl’s category went to Haley Satterfield while in the boy’s category it went to Henry Cox.
Sounds of a happy crowd, DJ music and overall fun made for a pleasant day.