The many activities of the Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days celebration are both educational and fun.
The 25th annual celebration on September 22-23, 2012 will draw some 30,000 participants to the campus of John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL.
The family friendly event is free and includes free parking. To the casual observer, watching a child fishing with his mother at the fishing pond, or a boy shooting a bow and arrow for the first time is nice. More importantly, it is the future of conservation. Hunting & Fishing Days is an introduction to the wild and the ethics involved. These children are the consumers of the future who, with their taxes paid on equipment and license fees will be the stewards of the wild and protectors of wildlife.
Attractions this year include over 200 vendors with products ranging from food to hunting and fishing equipment. Boats and All Terrain (ATV) vehicle are on display. Dog demonstrations include retrievers, foxhounds, coon dogs, pointing dogs, search and rescue dogs, agility dogs and the very popular jumping dock dogs.
A special limited edition Red Ryder style BB gun is available for purchase this year in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event. Each is numbered and engraved. To order one or more, contact Dwight Hoffard at John A. Logan College, 618-985-2828 extension 8208. They are available prior to the event to get a lower number.
The dock dogs display includes a competition among the “pros” for distance jumping from a platform into a tank of water. Also included will be some training exercises from the more novice dogs as they prepare for careers as dock dog pros.
The perennial waterfowl calling contests are back this year. They include the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling contest, The Tim Grounds Open and the Illinois State (meat) Duck Calling Championship held in the campus auditorium. These events attract callers from across the nation who desire to compete against the best of the best.
For the younger generation there is a variety of supervised activities. This year for the first time, the first 500 youngsters each day will receive an activity card to present at a variety of displays as part of a Kids Treasure Hunt. Once they have completed the card and returned it to the SIHFD Headquarters tent, the youngsters receive a Certificate of Participation and special gifts.
Adults can also register for hourly door prizes at the same location. Winner’s names will be posted for them to pick up their prize at any time during the event. Camo the Clown entertains the kids and Blue Grass Music is for the adults.
Hands-on activities for children include shooting, fishing, BB gun shooting, and archery. Nature demonstrations will inform attendees on the environment and the place of the hunter/fisherman in it. The fishing activity also includes chances for participants to win one of a number of bicycles awarded for the largest fish caught each day.
Specialty tents located in the parking area include The Waterfowl Tent, The Dicks Sporting Goods Archery Tent, and a Deer Hunting Tent sponsored by Team Harvest. Brody the Bear returns this year. The adult Grizzly bear is a popular attraction. Other fishing activities include the King Catfish Contest weigh-in on Saturday morning as well as the weigh-in for the High School Team Bass fishing contest in the afternoon. Some 40 teams are participating this year.
For the shooters, there is a field archery course on campus as well as a clay target shooing set up. Other attractions back from previous years include bass and crappie seminars at the 5,000-gallon Bass Tub, The Buck Skinners Village and a 1200-pound Kodiak bear, the son of popular Brody the Bear from previous years.
For the observer, the Southern Illinois Buckmasters will score whitetail antlers for anyone wanting to see how their trophy scores according to the records of Boone & Crockett Club or Pope & Young Club. The display of trophies is always a crowd pleaser. An added attraction this year is the 31-point Williamson County buck “Ginormica” mounted full size. It is the 4th largest buck take with archery tackle in history. The campus gym is set up with the work of artists, taxidermists and other artisans on display.
Food vendors are available across the campus with reasonable family friendly prices. Event hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.