DOBSON — A local conservation group is encouraging area youngsters to go to Fisher River Park on Saturday for outdoor education and activities.
Lee Freeman, president of the Tri County Ridgerunners chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, said his group has hosted JAKES Day for nearly a decade. It’s the third year the event will take place at Fisher River Park.
Though a jake is a young male turkey, it also means something else to the National Wild Turkey Federation — Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship. Freeman said all of that is set to be taught at the event.
The event is open to all youth up to the age of 17. It is free, and registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The program will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Freeman said there is much planned at the park.
According to Freeman, there will be archery classes, shooting classes, instruction on how to use game calls, skeet shooting and much more. It’s all geared toward ensuring the next generation enjoys the outdoors the way Freeman and others do.
“We want to pass that hunting and fishing heritage on to future generations,” explained Freeman. “It’s an opportunity to introduce those outdoor skills to children.”
Freeman noted the skills learned at the event may be used throughout a child’s life, for both recreation and to put food on the table. The event will have something which appeals to both genders and all ages and experience levels. Kids will get the best instruction available.
“It is a great learning environment, with really great instructors,” noted Freeman.
Another portion of the event will be a fishing derby. Freeman said the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will be stocking the portion of the Fisher River which runs through the park with channel catfish, though he noted there are many species of fish already in the river.
Though nothing is needed to take part in the event as a whole, Freeman said those looking to be a part of the fishing derby must bring a fishing pole and basic tackle, such as hooks. Freeman’s group will provide night crawlers for bait, but little outdoors boys and girls may fish with their own bait as well.
Food will be provided (also free), explained Freeman, and there will be an ample number of opportunities for youthful participants to walk away with prizes. Many will be offered throughout the event and at each station of instruction. Those who participate in a turkey shoot will be entered into a drawing for a 20-gauge pump shotgun.
Freeman said Saturday’s event, which was once held in Wilkes County, has evolved throughout the years. It has also seen participation dwindle somewhat — a trend Freeman hopes to eventually buck.
In the earlier years of the event, Freeman said he could expect about 250 participants. Recently, that number has dropped to fewer than 100. However, it’s through events like Saturday that children can learn the ways of outdoor activities and enjoy them throughout the courses of their lives.
Freeman hopes to build that interest level among at least a few kids on Saturday.
Fisher River Park is located near the town of Dobson on County Home Road, just off of Prison Camp Road.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.