Hunter’s Rendezvous adds squirrel hunt

Published 7:54 am Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kris Rich of Berrien County represented Project Appleseed at last year’s Hunter’s Rendezvous at Dowagiac Conservation Club. (Leader photo/File)

Kris Rich of Berrien County represented Project Appleseed at last year’s Hunter’s Rendezvous at Dowagiac Conservation Club. (Leader photo/File)

There will be a new addition to the 17th annual Hunter’s Rendezvous at the Dowagiac Conservation Club, which will be held Jan. 25.

Along with all the usual events such as Deer Camp chili, antique gun appraisals and virtual reality hunting, there will be a squirrel hunt held the following day.

The squirrel hunt will kick off at 7:45 a.m. Jan. 26 with a mandatory meeting of all participants at the conservation club, located just north of Dowagiac on M-51. Breakfast will be available beginning at 6 a.m. with chili and hot dogs available beginning at noon.

The hunt will begin following the meeting with weigh-in scheduled for 4 p.m. sharp. Late arrivals will be disqualified. State-wide hunting with all applicable Michigan hunting rules and regulations will be followed.

The hunt is for rimfire rifle or hand guns. No shotguns or dogs will be allowed.

The two-person event has an entry fee of $20. There is a 10-squirrel limit with weight determining the winners. Payback in cash and prizes based on the number of entries.

To register, contact Dale or Karen Jasper at (269) 921-3474 or sign up at the Hunter’s Rendezvous.

The Hunter’s Rendezvous will officially begin at noon Jan. 25, runs through 6 p.m. and is open to the public free of charge.

The event provides an opportunity for young hunters to learn from more experienced hunters in a casual atmosphere, according to coordinator Richard Atkinson.

“Visitors to the Hunter’s Rendezvous can expect to see a large display of deer, turkeys and other game that have been harvested from our area,” he said. “Every year we have more deer on display. This part of the event is always a big attraction.”

Atkinson estimates between 700 and 800 people attend annually.

Virtual reality hunting is expected to be a big draw.

“The club has purchased our own virtual reality hunting equipment that is state-of-the-art,” Atkinson said. “We will have this equipment available for visitors to the Hunter’s Rendezvous.”

Along with the hands-on displays, there will also be representatives from conservation organizations in attendance to provide information and answer questions about what each group does to protect wildlife and their habitats.

Those groups include Ducks Unlimited, the National Turkey Federation and Pheasants Forever.

Hunter’s Rendezvous helps the Dowagiac Conservation Club raise money to fund their youth education programs. The money goes to provide such activities at hunter safety classes, youth fishing day, wildlife encounters that bring live animals into area classrooms for educational and interactive presentations.

The Youth Education Fund also provides the Tracks magazine to area schools, which is used as a teaching tool. It helps sponsor youngsters from the area who want to attend the Michigan United Conservation Club’s summer camp.

Money is also raised through a silent auction.

“Area Merchants and conservation organizations have donated numerous items, including hunting equipment, limited edition prints, apparel and more to be sold during the silent auction,” Atkinson said. “We also have the Trading Post, which is a way for people to buy, sell and trade their used hunting equipment and clothing.”

Funds are also raised through a raffle. This year’s top prize is a freezer full of meat. Second place is a Weatherby 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun, while third prize is a 32-inch flat screen television.

Returning this year is the popular free-for-kids raffle, which will be held each hour beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 4.

“The entire event is designed to educate young hunters,” Atkinson said. “To that end, the Dowagiac Conservation Club will be signing up youngsters for a free one-year membership to the club during the Hunter’s Rendezvous.”