Hunter’s Rendezvous Benefits Youth Outdoor EducationJanuary 31st, 2013
In the old west, hunters and trappers came out of the hills to rendezvous (French for “present yourself”) once a year, where they would hold contests and exchange stories of their adventures. Times have changed, but in Dowagiac, hunters and trappers still gather once a year to do much the same thing – but for a cause.
The Dowagiac Conservation Club held its sixteenth annual Hunter’s Rendezvous this past Saturday. The clubhouse, renovated in 2002, featured dual stone fireplaces, wood siding and impressive game mounts and provided an ideal setting for rendezvous, complete with an emcee sporting a coonskin cap.
The Hunter’s Rendezvous featured antique firearm appraisal, big buck scoring, a silent auction filled with outdoor gear, a gun raffle, a virtual hunting booth, terrific chili and hourly giveaways of BB guns, youth bows and .22 rifles to young hunters. The youth focus was apparent and appropriate, since the proceeds from the Hunter’s Rendezvous support the Dowagiac Conservation Club’s youth programs, including hunter’s safety courses, sponsoring Tracks magazine in local schools, and sending kids to the MUCC Youth Camp.
I was proud, even as a new staffer at MUCC, to hear parents tell me how much fun their kids had at Youth Camp after being sponsored by Dowagiac Conservation Club, which brings me to the best part about the Hunter’s Rendezvous: the people.
The clubhouse wasn’t just turned into an old-time gathering, it was a community. I met people from all over southwest Michigan, including club members who volunteered to teach hunters safety, a guy who makes turkey calls and hunts with really unique methods, a woman who’s hunted multiple big game species including a record buck taken with a muzzleloader, a guy who’s great-great-great-great-grandpa fought in the Revolutionary War, two gentlemen who spend their retirement restoring rivers and even Senator John Proos, who stopped by to listen to his constituents and talk about the Second Amendment.
Most importantly, the club raised some money for a great cause – youth outdoor education – and everyone seemed to have fun. I didn’t leave empty-handed, though: I won a camo fleece bow sock for my recurve in the silent auction that was sewn by the huntress who took the record buck: I’m hoping it will bring me good luck on my first turkey hunt this Spring (the last day to apply for a license is tomorrow, by the way!)
Special thanks to the Dowagiac Conservation Club and Furmer Reed for inviting me and being great hosts. I can’t wait until next year!