By Matthew Taylor, SCI Foundation Major Gifts Manager
Bright eyes beaming, Phoebe enthusiastically recalls the slow approach of the deer and the excitement she felt as she carefully took her shot to her proud father Curtis at the 10th Annual Youth Hunt at the Douglas Hill Farm. Making it even sweeter was tying her brother Matt for the second largest doe award. In all, twenty-one youngsters were able to get their first taste of big-game hunting experience on Craig and Leslee West’s farm in Scotland Neck, NC.
What began over 15 years ago as an impromptu youth dove hunt by founding members David Jares, Steve Chase, and Harrell Queen has grown into the premiere youth hunting opportunity in Eastern North Carolina thanks to the involvement of the Wests and many others. “Youth hunts are a critical next step in the development of our young hunters,” according to North Carolina Wildlife and Fisheries officer Patrick Brown.
The R3 initiative of recruitment, retention, and reactivation was on full display at the Douglas Hill Farm Youth Doe Hunt with the youngsters paired up with more knowledgeable hunters to sit in the stands and learn first-hand skills like sitting still, being quiet, and staying awake. The training and theory from the hunting safety classes were put into practice in real-life situations on Saturday.
Owen, the young-man that I sat with, demonstrated a textbook application of the three points of stability when making his 200-yard shot. In fact, every young hunter was instructed on proper hunting techniques under the watchful eye of North Carolina Wildlife and Fisheries officer Patrick Brown including gun safety, deer identification, shot placement, tree stand safety, tracking and trailing, and cleaning and processing the venison.
Craig and Leslee joined a collection of some of the most knowledgeable hunters in Eastern North Carolina to pass on their hunting heritage to the next generation. As members of Safari Club International, one of our most critical duties is to share our love of hunting and the outdoors with others, and I commend Craig and Leslee West, David Jares, Steve Chase, and Harrell Queen for their great efforts in North Carolina this past weekend.
North Carolina Wildlife & Fisheries officer Patrick Brown leading the discussion on hunting safety
5 AM Assembly at the Big Red Barn receiving stand assignments from David.
Matt West instructs one of the hunters on the nuances of tracking and following a blood trail.
Harrell Queen works one of the flanks in the search for blood and tracks.
Soon everyone got first-hand experience on following a blood trail.
David Jares leading the skinning instruction and the importance of not poking the guts with your knife.
Lee Ivey showing his sons how to properly cape-out his eldest son’s doe from the youth hunt.
Phoebe with her 109 lb doe deer taken at the Douglas Hill Farm.
Phoebe’s brother Matt with his 109 lb doe deer from the Douglas Hill Farm.
Will White presented with the Savage rifle by Craig for winning the biggest doe award, but he generously gave it to another young hunter who didn’t have a deer rifle.
Proud father Curtis with his two successful new hunters, Matt and Phoebe.