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Saturday, September 15, 2012

JAKES Day and Tree ID

One would think after going to this event for over five years, we would be tired of it!  However, every year the boys jump out of bed early in the morning to make their way to JAKES Day.  JAKES Field Day events introduce young people to the joy of the outdoors. We were able to experience the outdoors through supervised, hands-on activities from various organizations, including our county 4H.

We had to arrive early to help set up the booth.  Normally, we have two booths set up next to each other but we were separated by about a half a mile today.  Sean helped work at the first booth with the long bows and recurved bows.  We blew up balloons upon arriving and then pinned them to a large board several feet out for target practice.  Sean was the one to give out the arrows and the designated arrow collector.  He did a great job, along with Ryan and the other Senior 4Hers from the county.  Ryan really impressed us with his ability to explain the different bows and how to shoot the box.  We are so thankful for his ability to work well with the youth.

The other is a bb-gun station, which was moved next to a skeet shooting activity.  This allowed the younger children, unable to shoot the larger gun, an opportunity to enjoy an activity at the same time.  Smart move for those family with a wide age range of children (That would be me!)  The skeet shooting was a new activity this year.  The boys loved it, and Henry even hit a skeet!  Having the skeet booth set up at the same station did not give us time to visit with our county Shooting Sports leader, Robert, since we did not shoot the bb-guns.  However, we have the information about this much desired project.

The following booths were also set up during the event:

Fishing Booth-set up by Academy for the youth to try their hand at casting.  They were expected to cast a pole that had a weight on the end of the line.  The idea was to cast the weight into a hula hoop several feet from the casting line.  At the end of the day, all equipment used in the booth is quietly given out to the youth...nothing goes back to the store.  They are very generous each year!

Turkey Information-The man who manned this booth was a one-man show not easily forgotten!  He did a great job introducing the life of a turkey, taking on the role of the turkey himself.  He kindly let me film his impromptu performance to share...yet another video that I cannot put on the blog.  I will be showing it to my 4Hers next week.  He also shows several turkey calls used in hunting.  I would love to have him talk to the 4Hers some time.  He also agreed to save some turkey parts on his next hunt for our Wildlife techniques!

Friends of the Forest-Our amigo, Alex, talked to the youth about the population and habitat needs of turkey in Texas.  He did an awesome job of explaining the environment needed to increase the turkey population.  He used every day examples pertinent to the youth to show that turkeys had some of the same needs.

Telemetry- The youth tracked 'animals' using sonar devices.  These devices are placed on animals to record needs and seasonal routes and behaviors.  This is very helpful in the habitat management of turkeys and other wildlife.  We have done this station many times and usually only one or two are given the opportunity to try the equipment.  Today, every youth had the opportunity to find the receiving device that was hidden.

Pellet Gun Booth-As we approached this booth, I thought it was strange to have a bouncy house at the event.  This had never happened before but stranger things have happened at JAKES Day.  I really thought they were going to ask us to take off our shoes as we entered the tunnel.  The joke was on me when we were told to put on ear protection and take the gun for a shot at a turkey poster!  The boys really enjoyed this and had several opportunities to make a good shot at the turkey.  Even little Edward had a turn with Michael's help and he was the first to get a good shot on the head!

Shotgun Booth:  The youth were given the opportunity to shoot 410 and 20 gauge shotguns.  Henry loves this part of the event.  Edward (my loud child) hates the sound of a gun!  He likes the idea of shooting but not the actual funny!  In the past, he has just avoided the booth.  This year he took a chance and tried to take a shot at the turkey.  He missed completely because the 'kick' to the gun was so strong it almost took his shoulder out, even with the helper holding him in place!  They felt so bad that they offered to let him try again..he said no thanks and headed out.  We figured he was done for this year, but...the next stop was the skeet shooting mentioned above.  The helper their gave him a different position to adjust to the movement of the skeet, and he shot his gun with a smooth movement and no kick.  I am so proud of him for trying again!

Rifle Booth-We missed this booth as we stayed at the skeet booth through two sessions.

We ended the day with a hot dog lunch and an invite to go look at trees at the Native Plant Center. As we were heading out, we noticed the skeet booth was still in use!  Sean was so excited because he did not get a chance to try this activity (as he was working the other 4H booth).  Jaron joined him and they both gave it their best effort.  The way I look at it they have now had an experience with the skeet and will be better for next time.

We (our family along with Christi, Rebecca, and Jaron) had a great afternoon finding trees throughout the native center trails.  We found so many on our Wildlife contest list.  It was fun introducing the actual trees to someone new along with our tricks for identification.  I must admit, I was wrong sometimes and Henry had to correct me, but they were similar trees and I am getting better.  Henry is a natural (pun intended!) at this, and I am glad he is able to teach in his quiet, gentle way (instead of telling me how silly I am for not knowing these things yet!).

Also, I met a SFA professor willing to come talk to our Wildlife group.  Then met a trapper who is going to let us borrow some hides from his supply for animal identification.  I love finding great contacts like this at these events.  AND...Christi and I were able to find some great examples of Lespedeza and Partridge Pea...get ready Wildlife group...we will have a lot of information for you at our next meeting.

A great day out in nature!  Taking some time to 'make the best better' as we learn a little more.

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