The North Country Longspurs, a Northern Vermont chapter of the NWTF, held its annual JAKES Day event in Passumpsic, Vermont this past September. For those of you who may not be familiar with this program, JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship and is open to kids of all ages whether your child is a member of the NWTF or not.

Through the generosity of host Bill Bunnell and his family this event has been held at his camp fourteen straight years and his son Rocky reports this year’s attendance of 124 kids was a record turnout. Rocky will be quick to point out how it would not be possible without the support of chapter members and sponsors that donate hats, t-shirts, prizes and food. Many members and their spouses also provide hands on educational materials that include fishing, kayaking, shooting, archery and tree stand safety. Typically a smaller group of eight to ten kids will spend ample time at a variety of stations designated for specific instruction. After the instruction is complete the kids will then get an opportunity to practice what they just learned. It was most impressive to see how well organized and efficient the kids were able to flow from station to station throughout the day. With a slight grin on his face Bill will tell you, “that after fourteen years we ought to have it figured out by now”. They clearly do, that’s for sure. The event was kicked off with a fishing derby at Bunnell Pond that saw 124 bobbers shoot from the shore line like fireworks. I nearly had to look away as I was sure a massive ball of fishing line was about to form in the middle of the pond. Much to my surprise each strategically placed cast found its mark without incident and it sure did bring a smile to my face watching the young boys and girls reel’em in.

While milling around the event I was introduced to Brent Lumbra who is a chapter member and instructor. Brent was thrilled with the turnout and so happy to see the excitement of all the youngsters. It was not long ago that Brent lost his son, Chad, in a tragic hunting accident and this event now honors his name. Hunter safety is strongly emphasized and presented in a very understandable format that clearly resonates with all age groups. It is important that all of us parents and mentors emphasize the importance of SAFETY at all times while in the field and remember accidents don’t discriminate!! Chapter member Joe Avery offered instruction on tree stand safety that was extremely well done. It can be very difficult when getting into technical instruction and Joe broke it down with excellent visual aids by actually having a variety of tree stands and harnesses to demonstrate proper usage. The ability of all the instructors to connect and make things interesting and understandable for all age groups was very impressive.

North Country Longspur members in conjunction with the NWTF have really done a wonderful job with habitat management. Chapter member Tim Corey explained the many benefits that a NWTF membership can offer including habitat restoration or enhancement. This chapter has worked on many acres of habitat enhancement and it’s clear that if local chapters keep working nationwide, at a local level, we will not only pass on the hunting tradition but the importance of land management as well. I must also point out Tim explained this to me while cooking 400 ears of corn and 450 hot dogs; he truly has taken multitasking to another level. So congratulations to the North Country Longspurs for a great event and be sure to look for this event next year—You will not be disappointed.

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