Baker County teens excel at youth hunter education challenge
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Baker County was well represented July 30 through Aug. 3 at the International National Rifle Association Youth Hunter Education Challenge event at Whittington Center at Raton, N.M.
Six Baker County youngsters were members of the Oregon State team that competed at Raton. The Oregon senior team finished 10th among more than 30 senior and junior teams. More than 400 youngsters from throughout the United States and Canada took part in the event.
Oregon coach Buck Buckner said the only other definite information he had was that MaryAnn Brooks of Baker City, captain of the Oregon junior team, placed third in the wildlife identification category. She finished with a score of 210 out of 300.
She finished with the same score as the first and second-place finisher, Buckner said. But, when they used the tie-breaker, which was the written hunter education exam, she placed third.
Buckner said Oregon senior state champion Austin McKnight of Baker City unofficially placed in the top five overall, and definitely placed in the top 10.
I wont know for sure, or know any of the other placings until the officials send them to me, Buckner said. And, that will take some time.
The Oregon teams were funded by sportsmans clubs like the Powder River Sportsmans Club, and donations from individuals. The donations are tax deductible.
Senior team members were McKnight, Craig Berryman of Baker City, Bryon Morrissey of Keating, Lacey Jenson of Nyssa, and Cristi Brackin of Baker City.
Jensons sister, Cassy, and Michael Kaup of Baker City also traveled to New Mexico and competed as individuals.
The Jensons dad, Phil, and Richard Gorts are assistant coaches for Buckner.
The Oregon junior team was Casey Stiller of Lebanon, Mario Valerio of Medical Springs, Will Cook of La Grande, Brooks and Thomas Lewison of Sweet Home.
Buckner said the YHEC event is open to boys and girls age 10 to 19 who have passed the Oregon Hunter Safety course. The senior division is for ages 15-19. The junior division is for youngsters 14 and under.
The overall event consisted of eight categories archery, shotgun, .22-caliber rifle, muzzleloader, wildlife identification, hunter safety, hunter education, and map and compass.
The weeklong activity also included a variety of hunting-related demonstrations, and outdoor skills.