Tree Stand Safety

It wasn’t that long ago a teenage boy was working a part-time job at a family-owned tree nursery when he was privy to a conversation between the business owners about the loss of young trees due to whitetail deer browsing and antler rubbing.    The boy’s interest peaked on the opportunity to learn how to archery hunt during the upcoming fall season.   No one had every showed him how to hunt, but he’d been reading, practicing his shot, and was willing to learn as he went.    The nursery owners welcomed his enthusiasm and granted him permission.

You wouldn't think it would work.

The shooting sports program is one of the fastest growing projects in Illinois 4-H. The program offers four disciplines of focus: archery, rifle, shotgun, and wildlife/hunting. For some teens, shooting sports is the one reason they joined and stayed in 4-H during those busy high school years.

Life-changing.

It isn't a term I use lightly or often. It loses its power when used carelessly, yet today, today, I can use no other word to describe Josiah's 4-H journey than life-changing.

Josiah just won the Illinois State 4-H Air Rifle Shoot held Saturday in Bloomington, but that isn't why his life is changed. His life is changed because of 4-H, one simple year of 4-H.

Any better, and he'd been perfect. Darren Hawkins of Grundy County missed only one clay target throughout a full day of shotgun trap competition at the Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports State Shoot held Saturday, May 31 at the Brittany Shooting Park in Bunker Hill. Hawkins hit 74 of his 75 targets to take first place in the shotgun division. The competition was the first state contest held since the shooting sports program began in Illinois in 2009. Dan Dawson, state Extension educator, said the meet followed the strict guidelines established by the National 4-H Shooting Sports program.

Elizabeth Auer was one of the first 4-H Shooting Sports members when the program began in Illinois in 2009. Now, at 23, she's the first former member to return as a shooting sports volunteer leader by completing training in rifle and archery.