This year’s South Georgia Youth Squirrel Hunt in Tattnall County was a huge success. It took place Saturday, Jan. 31, and we had the best year ever with more than 80 kids younger than 16 years old participating. When including youth 16 and older, we had around 100 total youth in attendance.
We had to move our hunt from Big Hammock WMA due to a rising river level, and the event was held at Lamar Smith’s farm in Reidsville. We sent multiple groups of dog handlers and kids to the woods Saturday morning. The most squirrels killed came from the group of Red DeLoach and his crew. They killed 16. Most other groups had around four squirrels for a morning of slower hunting with the youth in tow.
Larry Bland is to thank for this huge event. He was able to get all the food, trophies, door prizes, 12 guns, three YETI coolers and plenty of volunteers to make sure this event went smoothly. Larry really is an invaluable asset to this annual event, and it would not be possible without him and his family.
Ernie Stanfield built a custom bench that we raffled off to raise money for next year’s event. He also built the shooting bench and did a lot of the organizing.
I handled much of the computer work, gathering donations, lining up guides and dog hunters, etc.
We started off the day with every one gathering at 6 a.m. for sausage dogs that Larry had grilled. We split into our individual groups and hit the woods shortly after 7 a.m.
Hunting seemed to be slower than normal, but almost all the groups got to see game, and most bagged a few squirrels. We returned to Lamar’s farm around 11:30 a.m. and had hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and snacks.
After lunch, kids were split into three age groups for a shooting competition where each kid shot at an egg with a .22 rifle. The egg was moved back until we only had one winner of each age group. Then, the three age-group winners had a shoot-off for the overall winner.
Jordan Walden, of Vidalia, was the overall best shooter of the day. Then we gave away the door prizes, and every kid in attendance received a nice prize. Prizes ranged from knives, hats, hoodies, flashlights, ThermaCELLs, rod-and-reel combos, tackle boxes and also 12 shotguns and rifles. We also gave away two YETI coolers and 17 bags of dog food for our dog handlers and guides.
We want to send out a huge thanks to all of our sponsors, all of the dog owners, guides and parents and guardians of the kids. Without any of these, this hunt would not be what it is. We hope to continue to grow and make this event bigger every year.