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Youthful hunters compete at Potomac Fish and Game Club

June 21, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

WILLIAMSPORT -- More than 200 children from across Maryland gathered Saturday at the Potomac Fish and Game Club near Williamsport to test their hunting skills during the 24th annual Maryland Youth Hunter Education Challenge.

Randy Myers, president of the Potomac Fish and Game Club, said his organization has hosted the last three challenges.

"This is the best facility they've ever held this competition," Myers said. "The kids respect our property and our club."

Myers said anyone 18 or younger and has passed the state's hunter education course can participate in the event.

In a nutshell, the competition is similar to high school athletics. The children come from their respective parts of the state in teams of five and spend Saturday testing their skills in the following categories -- rifle, archery, skeet shooting, muzzleloading, hunter responsibility, orienteering, hunter-safety trail and wildlife identification. The winners are determined a day later after the points have been tallied.

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"There's no money -- only trophies," Myers said.

Myers said the $35 entry fee covers the cost of food, camping and shells. Some of the children prefer to camp on the grounds, while others stay at local hotels, he said.

Brandon Buffington, 15, of the Carroll County Hotshots, said he and his teammates practiced every Friday for the last four months to prepare for the event. As of Saturday afternoon, he said the Hotshots were doing pretty well.

"This is where you put your learning to the test," he said.

Scott Barber, 15, of the Cumberland Outdoor Club, said he was a part of three winning teams when he competed in the 14-and-younger age group.

This year marked the first time he competed in the senior category.

Scott said his least favorite activity in the competition is wildlife identification.

"It's kind of hard to know all the skulls and furs of different animals," he said. "But it's fun ... We just do what we love. We love shooting. We love to be in the outdoors."

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