By Rob Potter
ROSCOE The Sullivan County Long Beards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held its fourth annual JAKES Event this past Saturday at the Roscoe Firemen’s Park.
JAKES, which stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics & Sportsmanship, is the youth organization of the NWTF.
Nearly 300 youngsters between the ages of 1 and 17 attended the free event.
Those kids, many of whom are JAKES members, and their parents enjoyed a variety of demonstrations and exhibits. Those demonstrations and exhibits included Roscoe Firemen giving a demonstration of the Jaws of Life, a laser shoot provided by a very generous donor, horseback riding, a New York State Forest Ranger, a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officer with an ATV, Ducks Unlimited with Labradors, a .410 shoot, a petting zoo, a New York State Police K-9 Unit, Sky Hunters in Flight and birdhouse and bathouse building.
In addition, Fidelis Care and Jeff Bank set up information booths.
The Long Beards provided hot dogs, chips and drinks for the youth and the Boy Scouts provided delicious homemade doughnuts.
“It was our best event yet,” Long Beards Event Chairman Hank D’Auria said. “There were a lot of happy faces and that is what it’s all about.”
Two of the most popular events were the New York State Police K-9 demonstration and the Sky Hunters in Flight show. Scores of kids and adults gathered on the firemen’s park baseball field for the two programs.
New York State Trooper Matt Johnstone and his K-9 partner “J.T.” showed how they work together in the field. When a “bad guy” who was actually fellow Trooper Mike Schroeder dressed up in padded, protective clothing came after Johnstone with a large stick as a weapon, J.T. went into action. He growled, charged at Schroeder and quickly bit into his side. The German Shepard did not let go of Schroeder until Johnstone gave the command to do so.
Johnstone told the crowd that J.T. is nine years old, has been trained to sniff out seven different types of illegal narcotics and enjoys playing as that is his reward after helping to track down a criminal or drugs. Johnstone explained that like all 70 dogs in the New York State Police K-9 Program, J.T. is named after a trooper who died in the line of duty.
J.T. lives with Johnstone and his family and will continue to do so after he retires from the K-9 Program.
Brian Bradley, who has presented his Sky Hunters in Flight show at schools, fairs and other venues in several states, brought a variety of birds of prey with him to the JAKES event. Those birds included a white-faced owl, barn owl, speckled owl, European eagle owl, Harris hawk, gyrfalcon and step eagle.
Thirteen-year-old Krystal Quinones of Honesdale, Pa. volunteered to help Bradley demonstrate how the Harris hawk catches its prey. Bradley guided the hawk to tree on the other side of the field from the crowd. Quinones then ran across the field while pulling a fake rabbit on a string behind her.
The hawk quickly swooped down and attacked the fake rabbit.
“It was fun,” Quinones said of participating in the demonstration. “Brian told me to run around in a big circle to get the hawk to chase me, but the hawk was too quick and went right for the rabbit.
“I wanted to run around a little longer, but it was still fun,” added Quinones, who is the granddaughter of Long Beards President Butch Kortright.
One of the youngsters who made a birdhouse was 7-year-old Conner Manell of Livingston Manor.
When the youngster was asked if he liked making the birdhouse, he said “yes.”
He also enjoyed several other exhibits and demonstrations.
“I liked the birds of prey,” he said. “I liked the coon hounds and the petting zoo.”
Young Conner, who is a JAKES member, proudly noted that he has called in two turkeys for his father, Tim Manell, during the last two spring turkey seasons. Conner called those gobblers using a homemade wingbone turkey call crafted by his uncle, Charlie Fontana.
Tim Manell was also enjoying the JAKES Event.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “It’s a great event.”
Jerry Daughtrey of Willowemoc was one of several Long Beards members volunteering at the event. He helped Conner Manell and several other youngsters make a birdhouse.
“These guys are great,” he said of his fellow Long Beards members. “The way they help out the kids and have events like this for kids is wonderful. When I saw what they were doing, I wanted to help out.”
D’Auria noted that Long Beards volunteers helped the youngsters build 340 bird and bathouses.
Every child who attended the event received a gift. There were 32 guns given away as gifts, along with a host of other very substantial prizes. Among the other prizes were 240 pairs of Bushnell binoculars.
Some raffle fundraiser winners were also picked. The Henry .44 was won by Michael Ligus of Livingston Manor and Ringwood, N.J., the Henry .22 was won by Joe Burghardt and John Bock was the winner of the Sullivan County Long Beards collectible knife.
Winners of the Long Beards’ Senior and Junior Division shooting contests included Dylan D’Auria, Travis Davis and Morgan Wynkoop.
The Long Beards also picked the names of 25 Extreme JAKES (ages 12 to 17) who they will take on a pheasant hunt at Catskill Pheasantry on Saturday, Oct. 3. Those Extreme JAKES will each be able to shoot two birds and have lunch with the Long Beards. At the end of the hunt, a raffle will be held and two lucky hunters will have their birds mounted for free.