Last weekend in Northwest Tennessee, the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt celebrated its 9th year and marked its 1,000th youth to participate. The weekend remembers Rice, who tragically passed away in 2007, through his favorite pastime and fosters appreciation for wildlife conservation in youth from across the state.
The hunt invited 122 high and middle schoolers who compete on Tennessee trap, skeet and sporting clay shooting teams. The Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program and the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt are both initiatives of Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest independent nonprofits dedicated to the conservation of Tennessee’s wildlife and natural resources.
“Tennessee Wildlife Federation works to lead the conservation and sound management of the state’s wildlife and great outdoors. One way we do that is sharing the joy of the outdoors with young people, including through events like the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “We view fostering the next generation of sportsmen and women as critical work because they drive the conservation movement, but for every ten sportsmen today only seven are growing up to replace them.”
The Friday evening banquet kicked the weekend off and included a hunting 101 course, silent auction, a gun give away organized by Ducks Unlimited, and the awarding of several scholarships.
- Dane Selden of Germantown, Tenn. is the 1,000th youth to participate in the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt. He received a Special Edition Browning Silver Hunter Shotgun—one of only 1,000 made. Selden is on the Houston High School shooting team.
- Christopher Salemi of Collierville, Tenn. was drawn to receive a lifetime sporting license, which has a face value of nearly $2,000 and allows him to hunt and fish for the rest of his life. Salemi is a member of the Collierville shooting team.
- Medina shooting team athlete Evan Dunphy of Trenton, Tenn. received a $250 college scholarship from Final Flight Outfitters.
- Delta Waterfowl’s $250 college scholarship was awarded to Landon Biggers, a Collierville shooting team member in Collierville, Tenn.
- Tennessee Wildlife Federation gave a $500 college scholarship to Chase Carroll of Hohenwald, Tenn. Carroll is a member of the Lewis County shooting team.
- Ducks Unlimited gave two firearms to support Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt. Chris Hinton of Collierville, Tenn. won a Weatherby 300 Mag rifle. Lance Sherer of Medina, Tenn. won a camo Beretta Outlander 300 12-gauge shotgun.
The hunt on Saturday got underway in 20-degree weather before dawn. Experienced hunters and volunteers employed boats, ATVs and waders to guide the novice youth hunters to 21 duck blinds across Northwest Tennessee. Though hunters had to work with frozen fields that morning, more than 200 ducks were harvested with some youth reaching their allowable limit.
“The kids really enjoyed the experience, even those who weren’t successful during the hunt,” said Michael. “Just being in nature, watching the sun rise—and even bearing the cold—makes it worth all of the effort.”
Hunters and anglers are the main source of funding wildlife conservation in Tennessee and are leading advocates for policies that promote good stewardship of natural resources. Fostering young sportsmen and women is vital to securing the future of Tennessee’s wildlife.
The weekend was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Delta Waterfowl, Final Flight Outfitters, Sweeping Corporation of America, Ducks Unlimited, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the City of Dyersburg.