Learn by doing — that’s the best way to learn hunting and fishing skills, according to Lee Freeman, presdient of the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Tri County Ridge Runners.
“If I tell you something you may forget,” Freeman said. “If I show you, you will never forget.”
This Saturday, local kids “from Surry County and beyond” will get a chance to pick up some of those skills for free at Jakes Day, a youth field day held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fisher River Park in Dobson.
Adolescent male wild turkeys are called “Jakes,” but the event title is also an acronym: Juniors Acquiring Kowledge Ethics & Sportsmanship.
“Each letter means a very important thing to our youth across the nation,” said Lee Freeman, Ridge Runners president. “Everything will be taught there that day.”
The day will be packed with competitive and educational activities, as well as some that are just plain fun.
Registration for the fishing derby will start at 8:30 a.m., and a turkey calling contest starts at 1 p.m.
The contests are divided by age: “Poults,” are up to 8 years old; “Jakes” are ages 9 to 12; “Extreme Jakes” are 13 to 17 years old.
“A poult is a baby turkey,” Freeman said. “As they grow and feather the male and females are called a ‘Jake’ and a ‘Jenny’ until maturity, when they are called a ‘gobbler’ and a ‘hen.’”
Fishing will be open all day long — bait is free — even if a child doesn’t want to enter the derby.
All day long various stations will be open teaching different skills including shooting (skeet, BB, bow, crossbow and rifle), trapping, fly tying and hunting calls.
A hot dog lunch and drink will be provided, and there will also be crafts, face painting, lots of door prizes and a visit from the Scooby-Doo characters and Mystery Machine replica.
“For educational purposes it’s phenomenal, and it’s a lot of fun for families,” he said. “It’s a great vision as well, to see families back out fishing. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, parents spending time with children besides in front of the TV or game system.”
For Freeman, the event gets children started on activities and sports who otherwise might not have the opportunity to participate, activities that that not only offer lifelong fun and learning but can be used to survive.
“There’s a very good possibility you can go to the pond or stream and acquire food for the family, besides going to Food Lion to buy it,” he said.
“The same thing applies to the bow hunting. The bow is fun, but you can feed your family.”
Freeman, who learned to fish and hunt from his father and grandfather, says kids can learn these things at the event even if it’s not a part of their family tradition — yet.
“It’s something they will be able to grow with and pass on to their children, just like it was passed on to me.”
Adults are welcome to participate as well.
“You don’t get too old to learn to fish,” Freeman said, adding that the entire event including the contests, the fishing, lunch and the bait “is absolutely free,” and that donations will not be solicited.
“It’s good and it’s true,” he said. “Don’t miss this opportunity to spend time with your children — for free. There’s going to be memories made that day that are going to last a lifetime. It could be little Sally catching a fish or Johnny hitting the bulls eye with the BB gun. Things will take place that wouldn’t take place otherwise.”