There's been a big push in recent years to get more youths involved in hunting and fishing, with these efforts showing varying levels of success. Many initiatives involve state programs designed to make it more appealing and interesting for youngsters to get out in the woods and enjoy the outdoor sports.
In addition, the many sportsmen's clubs scattered across the Upper Peninsula have also joined in and offer programs and events aimed at young hunters and anglers.
One of the longer running efforts has been right here in Marquette County, with the Negaunee Rod and Gun Club being the host.
In fact, on Saturday the club will be holding the 19th annual Safe Hunting and Shooting Youth Day. Located at 355 North Road in Negaunee Township, the event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Co-sponsored by U.P. Whitetails of Marquette County, youth day teaches participants not only to shoot properly, but - more importantly - how to do in the safest possible manner.
The event is open to all area youths and their families free of charge and promises to be a fun day on the range.
In addition, the club could always use more volunteers to help out during the day, so think about pitching in for a good cause.
For more information, call Jim Frounfelter at 486-4976.
There's another local sportsmen's club that has an upcoming event designed for both young and older shooters.
This one is the 26th annual Turkey Shoot at the West Branch Sportsmen's Club in Skandia that is set for Sept. 14.
Open to the public, this fun shoot doesn't involve shooting live turkeys, but you could walk away with a frozen one.
Included are events for rifle, shotgun, bow, pistol, black powder, rimfire (including a special youth rimfire event) and - new this year - crossbow.
Shooting will begin at 10 a.m. at the club's range, which is located on Engman Lake Road about a mile south of M-94.
For more information, call 942-7688, 249-1593 or 942-7704.
These shooting events once again get me thinking about the many hunting seasons that are upon us. Hunting in the fall is special time in the woods, and I read a passage in a magazine article the other day that made me ponder why we hunt.
We all talk about the wonderful sport it is and the delicious table fare we haul out of the northwoods, but this point of view was from a different angle.
Not having the article in front of me here at work, I'll do my best to paraphrase it and still maintain its flavor.
It centers on why a walk in the woods with a gun - a shotgun in this case in pursuit of ruffed grouse - is so much more enjoyable than simply a walk in the woods without a gun.
There is a special feeling the hunter gets when entering the woods, such as being a real part of the environment rather than just a visitor. We become a predator just like many other creatures of the woods, and we must think like one to be successful at our task at hand.
There is no fanciful sightseeing as we stroll through aspen thickets, along ridges and through valleys. We are concentrating on what must be done if the targeted game presents itself, and then we hopefully carry out those actions in the proper way and score some fresh wild game for the table.
Then again, this is our frame of mind while on the hunt, but it's not all blood and guts when we are in the woods. There needs to be those breaks when we do stop to smell the fresh, crisp autumn air and the odor of fallen leaves drifting up from the forest floor as the morning dew is burned off.
The sounds of the northwoods are also a treat in the fall, with any leaves remaining on tree rustling in the breeze, the gurgling of the creek as it tumbles over a beaver pond and the far-off sound of geese honking on their way south being music to our ears.
So while we put ourselves in that predator mode while on the hunt, intent on being successful in scoring some game, we also need to balance that out with taking the time to enjoy our surroundings and giving thanks for the bountiful gifts our wonderful U.P. has to offer.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.