FOWLER – Children from the local Mathews School District took their thinking skills into the woods by participating in an annual deer hunting event hosted by local law enforcement.
The Big Deer Contest brought together 22 children aged 8 to 18 to hunt deer during the season which began in September. Six children were able to earn money.
The event, now in its second year, was hosted by the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, Fowler Police Department and Mathews Schools. the “friendly competition” invited students to go out to hunt and then report the size of their deer to see how they fared with other students in their age group.
The children who participated and their families gathered over the weekend at Bockelman’s Landscaping and Garden Center.
Fowler Police Chief Mike Currington and Steve Smith of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and a school resource officer said the children competed in three age brackets.
Smith said plans for next year are to also involve young people from Joseph Badger Schools.
Currington said he approached Smith, who serves as the SRO for Mathews Schools, to set up a youth deer hunting program with community sponsorships.
“The children did not have to pay anything to participate in the program. The children had six months to go hunting during deer hunting season,” said Currington.
Smith said the event is something kids can do with their families.
“The idea was to give kids something to look forward to as they continued to deal with COVID-19,” he said.
He said the 2020-21 season contest, which had 16 entrants, has garnered so much positive feedback from families and the community that plans have been made to hold it again next season.
“We want to involve the children of Joseph Badger School next year. We want to expand this and bring all hunters together,” said Currington.
Children who got a deer had their names placed on a spinning wheel to win prizes.
Wesley Murphy, 12, of Fowler, said he got his stag on November 8 after trying for several months.
He said his mother, Jill Murphy, was with him when he got his deer.
“I think it was luck that I got the stag. It was really exciting, but you have to be patient. Wesley said.
His father, Ryan Murphy, said his son hunted in the wooded area of their property.
“I wasn’t surprised when they told me he had a deer. Every day he wants to be in the woods. He spent a lot of time there looking for a deer,” said Ryan.
Wesley said that in addition to deer, he also hunts rabbits and squirrels.
Jack Ford, 11, from Fowler, said participating was fun, saying he saw the deer from his treehouse on his family’s property.
“Being patient helps” said Jack, noting that he had his deer in January.
Kailee Tucker, 10, from Vienna, said that while she hadn’t had a stag this season, she had one last year when she competed.
“Last year I had my first deer,” Kailee said.
The purpose of the program is to educate young people on how to hunt.
Many children said they use tree supports to hunt.
Richard Jaeger, a professional hunting guide from Colorado for 12 years, spoke to the children, saying it was exciting to see so many young children participating in the sport.
“You will remember this all your life. You are starting to discover the world of hunting and it will be a lifetime experience,” Jaeger said.