Youth Safari Day next weekend, and youth quail hunt is Oct. 4-5
By JIM MATTHEWS
The selfie was shot by a member of the U.S. Shooting Team on the eve of the Pan American Games in Toronto, and there it was on my Facebook page. It is a photo a bunch of fresh-faced youngsters who are among the best rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooters in the world, whose diligence and hard work and upbringing have allowed them to compete and travel around the world.
These are young people who understand responsibility, loyalty, and love of country (if not necessarily its leaders). Firearms have helped shape their lives. In the foreground of the photo was the elder statesman of the group, Southern California shotgun shooter Kim Rhode, a medalist in five consecutive Olympics, but a PanAm games rookie. Rhode led the 600-plus contingent from the United States into these games carrying the U.S. flag. She said the honor was like standing on the podium and accepting an Olympic medal.
Rhode will turn 36 at the Pan American games next week. I remember her 17 years ago showing off her first Olympic medal sitting at a table outside on a hot July day talking to kids about her Olympic experience, letting them hold the medal, encouraging them to start competitive shooting. Rhode had won a gold medal in women’s doubles trap the summer before, becoming the youngest gold medalist in the history of Olympic shooting. Yet, she took the time out of her training and shooting schedule to attend the first Youth Safari Day. Barely 19 at the time, she realized she could be a role model for the hundreds of urban kids who attended that first Youth Safari Day. Rhode was a fixture at this Safari Club-sponsored event each year when it didn’t conflict with her shooting schedule. As a kid who had grown up around guns and hunting and the outdoors, she knew how big an impact these traditional activities had on her character and life.
I remember one shy young girl who hung back and listened to Rhode talk about how the event had progressed until she broke her final targets. The girl finally inched up to the table and touched the gold medal, tracing her finger around the edge, and then looked up at Rhode with big eyes. She was enamored. It’s better to be enamored with a Kim Rhode then, and today, than a Miley Cyrus or some Kardashian person. Better to learn how to shoot or hunt or fish than buy Skin & Ink magazine, learn obscene rap lyrics, and want to spend all your time in the mall and at clubs texting the whole time.
Youth Safari Day, while it won’t have Kim Rhode this year, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises in Corona. It can help put down a foundation for kids. There will be a wide variety of outdoor activities for kids to try out and watch being demonstrated. They will be able learn about firearms safety and then shoot BB-guns, .22s in both rifle and pistol configuration, and shotgun a few clay targets (perhaps whetting Olympic dreams). There is an archery gallery, and they can learn how to fish and maybe catch a catfish or two. They will even learn about cleaning and cooking those fish. They might get wet when they try out kayaking, or get pretty high (not that kind of high) when they climb a rock wall. They can try their hand at turkey and duck calling or make their own quail call and learn how to blow it (I’ll be teaching that session). There will be a horseback riding exhibition, a guided nature walk in Prado Basin, hunting dog training demonstrations, animal exhibits (yes, touching is allowed), and paintball games. It will be about all those things kids can’t do in our mostly urban environment. The adults have a good time, too.
Tickets are $14 for each child, who also must be accompanied by a paying adult. Lunch reservations are available for $6 per person. These are pre-registration prices. Prices go up to $20 and $8 respectively at the door -- if any spots are available. You can get more information and register at www.youthsafariday.com. My two boys attended well into their teens and had a grand time.
Second cool youth event notice
Youth quail hunt on Mojave
Preserve is set for Oct. 4-5
The 2015 youth quail hunt on the Mojave National Preserve will be held Oct. 4-5. While the preserve is open during those two days to all junior hunters, this is a special mentored hunt for kids 16 and under (they have to have a junior hunting license, which means they have completed their hunter safety class) who apply for this unique opportunity.
The kids selected for this hunt will be paired with an experienced hunter, often who will have trained hunting dogs, and guided on this hunt. They youth will be trained in quail habits, where they live, identifying their tracks, and field care and cooking when and if they get to shoot a bird or two. The group will get tours, learn about wildlife conservation programs, and hear campfire talks. Breakfast and dinner will be provided for free by volunteers on Saturday. While they can’t hunt, parents or youth sponsors are welcome to attend and take part in all weekend activities.
Space is limited to the first 50 youths who register, and the hunt until fills up with a few days of being announced. The group will be camping at the Black Canyon Group Campground at Hole-In-The-Wall on the Mojave National Preserve. For more information, go to the MNP website at www.nps.gov/moja/planyourvisit/youth-quail-hunt.htm.
San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds reopen
San Bernardino National Forest officials announced that Jenks Lake and the campgrounds on Barton Flats and Heart Bar regions of the forest reopened this past week. The campgrounds had been closed while firefighters were battling the 31,359-acre Lake Fire. While the campgrounds and Jenks Lake recreation area are reopening, the entire burn area, including most of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and all of the trails through the burn area remain closed to public access. More information is available on the national forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf or by calling either the Big Bear Discovery Center at 909-382-2790 or the Mill Creek Visitor Center at 909-382-2881.