NEWBERRY — Getting in touch with nature, approximately 30 to 40 youth gathered off Trinity Church Road on Saturday morning for a chance to skeet shoot, quail hunt, and fish through the Midstate Dove and Quail group.
Once a part of the National Quail Unlimited, the chartering members of Newberry Quail and Dove decided to form this new organization tasked and focused on youth and wildlife programs for the midlands areas of South Carolina. The organization was formed in 2010, holding its first fundraising event in March of that year.
Because the group is a private organization as well as non-profit, no one gets paid, although they do have a board of directors, according to Donnie Brown, president of the group.
“All of our funds go back into the community,” Brown said.”We try to focus on the kids and youth and put the money where they can get something out of it.”
He said the group also supports the S.C. Department of National Resources and other quail projects and groups.
According to Brown, Midstate Dove and Quail holds 12 to 20 youth events each year, including the one held Saturday. Events the group sponsors include annual hunter education courses, fishing rodeos, turkey hunts and dove shoots, and deer, rabbit, duck, and quail hunts.
Brown said for him, being a part of the organization is personal.
“My father was a forester, so it was straight to the outdoors, always,” Brown said.
Although he doesn’t have kids of his own, Brown said he loves to see the expressions on their faces while participating in the events.
Those participating in Saturday’s event had the opportunity to shoot skeet, fish or hunt for quail. They were on a rotating schedule so that each youth had the chance to try their luck at everything if they desired. For safety reasons, Brown said only two children at a time were allowed to enter the fields to hunt quail. They were also accompanied by at least two adults.
“Safety is the most important issue when dealing with firearms,” Brown said.
Brown said youth participating came from a variety of organizations including a skeet shooting club from Saluda and Boy Scout Troop 222.
One of the participants, Mary Helen Alford, 14, has been a part of these events for years because of her father’s involvement with Midstate Quail and Dove. Alford said her father took her hunting when she was younger, but she wasn’t allowed to shoot.
Her favorite part is skeet shooting. “I have no patience for fishing,” Alford said.