Wildlife headlines annual gala at Stewart
February 2, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Club Stewart, often filled with sounds of celebration, camaraderie, social gatherings and events marking major milestones in military life, was a place of different sounds Jan. 22.
The distinctive calls of wild ducks and turkeys attracted and held the full attention of the hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who filled the Main Ballroom for the Third Annual Wildlife Gala.
Marty Fischer demonstrated the calls during a 30-minute talk to the gala gathering. Fischer, one of America's best-known outdoor personalities, appears on "TNT Outdoor Explosion" on the Pursuit Channel and is seen by 41 million households.
Preceding his talk, from time to time at his exhibit stand, Fischer demonstrated a duck or turkey call for an inquirer. The calls rose above the conversation level, providing a preview of what was to come.
The gala had other attractions as well.
Samples of venison dishes, prepared by competitors for the popular annual Venison Cook-off, disappeared quickly. The venison chefs competed in four categories: deer steak, deer sausage, deer chili and chopped deer barbecue.
Vendors along with Fish and Wildlife representatives drew a steady stream of gala attendees who wanted to learn more about conservation, protecting wildlife, equipment, hunting, and fishing opportunities at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
The gala presented an opportunity to share hunting and fishing stories with fellow outdoor enthusiasts, talk about equipment, swap successful harvesting techniques and learn more about a sport they love.
Garrett Goodritch, a retired Army Staff Sergeant, who serves as a gate security officer at Fort Stewart, said this was his first Wildlife Gala, but it wouldn't be his last.
"At Fort Stewart, this is the largest gathering of hunting and fishing aficionados that I've ever seen," Goodritch said. "I wish I had known about this before. I was just talking with Mr. Fischer and one of the taxidermy guys and this has been a very interesting evening."
Sergeant Christopher Burdette, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, was at the gala with his wife, Amy, and children Christopher Jr., Allissa and Abby. He has been a hunter for 15 years. Sergeant Burdette said he and his Family liked the relaxed, Family atmosphere.
Fischer, who lives in Rincon, is an author, professional wingshooter, a National Sporting Clays Association Level III shooting instructor, gun club designer and duck-calling champion.
After demonstrating calls of various species of duck and wild turkeys in various hunting situations, he counseled his audience, "The most important thing is to sound like the game that you are hunting. When the ducks get in close, you want to do what the ducks actually do.
The most important thing you can do when calling a duck, is to sound like a duck. It's the same thing with a turkey that it is with a duck. You want to sound like a turkey."
Fischer said the calling and interacting with the game is the most fun of the hunt for him.
"It is a big, big part of the game to call in a flock of ducks, to call a turkey into you, or to use a call and have a deer come walk to that call. I promise you, that is as satisfying as anything.
When you can do that, you have actually won. They are not supposed to come running to you or fly to you. You are the one who did it."
For more information about Fischer, go to www.marty-fischer.com or ww.tntoutdoorexplosion.com.
Winners in various 2010 contests were announced at the Third Annual Wildlife Gala. They are:
Sausage Category-First place went to Ted Eby and second place to Cornelia Gillis.
Chopped BBQ Category-First place went to Pam West; second place to Sara Telford; and third place to Anthony Coppinger.
Chili Category-First place went to Christi Milton, second place to Julie Herman; and third place to James Vanderzyl.
Steak Category-First place went to Rodney West.
Youth Category-First place was awarded to Marian Vanderzyl.
Big Buck Contest
First place: Charles Christenbury, with a score of 125 1/8 inches;
Second place: Allen Murray, with a score of 101 6/8 inches;
Third place: David Garner, with a score of 86 1/8 inches.
Wildlife Photo Contest
Soldier winner was Spc. Rebecca Waters.
First place in the adult category went to Ronald Welch, second place to Shania McClure and third place to David Fischer. Alicia Cummings and Shane Best received honorable mention.
In the 7-10 youth category, Dylan Welch won first place and Zachary Sellers second place.
In the 11-15 youth category, Courtney Welch won first place.
Big Gobbler Contest
Soldier Award - Staff Sergeant David Crawford: 14 pounds, 8 ounces; left spur 1.126 inches, right spur 1.3125 inches, beard 10.0625, score 59.
First place - Command Sergeant Major Tony Cones, 14 pounds, 6 ounces; left spur, 1.7500 inches, right spur, 1.6875 inches, beard 10.750 inches, score 70.25.
Second place - Gene McKenzie: 16 pounds, 4 ounces; left spur 1.3750 inches, right spur, 1.5000 inches, beard 10.1250 inches, score 65.25.
Third place - Chief Warrant Officer Sammy Wilson: 16 pounds, 15 ounces; left spur 1.2500 inches, right spur 1.000 inches, beard 11.750 inches, score 62.94.
Fourth place - Michael Bell: 18 pounds, 1 ounce; left spur 1.2500 inches, right spur 1.2500 inches, beard 9.8750, score 62.81.
Spring Bass Tournament
First place Soldier Award, Paul E. McCann
Second place, Richard Kunda
Third place, Dannie Daughtery