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Youth learn though experience about sportsmanship, ethics and safety

David Pressgrove

Even as Jakes Day neared its end, there were children still swarmed around the ATVs waiting their turn for a ride.

“It’s hard to keep them from the ATV’s,” said event organizer Kristie Bruce as she sat down after the four-hour event. “But Dave is great and so is everybody else who helps put this on.”

The “Dave” Bruce was referring to, is Dave Watson of High Country Sports. He spent his Saturday morning and afternoon teaching children about safety on four-wheelers and then letting them drive through a short course. For the children too young to drive, he had them hop on the back and ride along with him.

“This is what Jakes Day is about,” he said between trips. “Letting the kids get out and have fun but also learn something.”

Zachary Hansen, 8, was a fan of his first ride on an ATV.

“It’s like a snow mobile on wheels,” he said. “That was the best thing out here.”

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There was much more at Loudy-Simpson Park than just ATV’s at the third annual Jakes Day. The event spread across the east fields with nine booths. Exhibits ranged from archery to air rifles and from search and rescue to animal skins.

Organized by the Yampa Valley Yelpers, the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation, Jakes Day was multi-faceted. Participants in Jakes Day not only had the chance to take part in all the activities, but they also had a chance for a free membership into Jakes. The name of Jakes itself represents several aspects: it’s an acronym for Junior Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship, it’s the junior organization of the NWTF and it is also the name of a young wild Turkey.

The grown up members of the Moffat County Yelpers are working to transplant wild turkeys from thee Rifle and Grand Junction areas to a location west of Craig. The group is developing a new habitat for turkeys in the are and plans to offer public hunting when the turkey population is large enough.

The young members of the MoCo Yelpers receive a quarterly magazine, a membership sticker and an education booklet as well as their own day of activities.

“The community is so great with helping,” Bruce said. “When I call and I mention children they are all right there to help.”

Scott Moore of Mountain Man Taxidermy responded to a call he received from Bruce two days before the event. He brought out several samples from his business to show the new members of Jakes.

“A lot of people have no idea of what’s involved in my job,” he said. “The only original part on a subject is the skin and horns.”

Moore noted that his bag of fake tongues, eyes and ears were the biggest hit among the kids at his display.

Mountain Man Keith Dunaway also had a display of animal skins, only his weren’t stuffed. They were the means of survival for the character that Dunaway portrays.

“I’m a trapper from the 1820-1830 free trapping era,” he said. “Kids are usually in awe of some of the ways of survival they trapper practiced.”

Flint and steel serve as Dunaway’s means of heat and cooked food. His currency is animal hides.

“I show them that you don’t have to have a Game Boy and air conditioner to survive,” he said. “There are ways around the modern quote, unquote necessities.”

Survival was also the focus of Ed Keleher from the Colorado Division of State Parks. His survival had more to do with a live vest than an animal skin.

“We had our own Titanic out here today,” he said. “But we only had one survivor.”

Keleher simulated what it would be like on a boat while it was sinking and no one had their life jackets on. The children had to dig into a cooler and grab life jackets, untangle them and figure out if they fit in 30 seconds. Dario Georgiou, 8, didn’t survive the simulation.

“My jacket was all tangled up and I couldn’t get it,” he said. “My friend actually got one on, but it was an adult jacket so he didn’t survive either.”

So what did he learn?

“That you always need to have your life jacket on,” he said. “The boat sinks too fast if you don’t.”

Another mission accomplished for Keleher.

“Any time we can promote boat safety by going out to the public it’s great,” he said. “They don’t always come to us so this is an opportunity that might not come up any other time.”

Continuing with the safety theme was the archery and air rifle displays. The Moffat County 4-H Club helped with both displays. Jody Lee, one of the 4H shooting coaches explained their purpose at Jakes Day.

“In this environment we don’t get real heavy into safety because everyone has an individual instructor to help them,” he said. “We teach them the basic safety tips and let them have fun shooting.”

Hiton Smith, 9, was confident in his shooting abilities after his time with the air rifle.

“I had one that was probably that far from the target,” he said as he put thumb and index finger a quarter of an inch apart. “It’s been a fun day.”

Bruce was happy to hear that kids were having fun. She said that 75 children had signed up for the event, the largest in its short history.

“Even with just one child coming out it’s a success,” she said. “So we had 75 successes this weekend and everything went great.”

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