UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Throughout September, Penn State Extension 4-H members from across the state came together to learn basic hunting and photography skills during the first annual 4-H Camera Hunt, which was hosted by the state 4-H shooting sports committee.
“Considering the coronavirus pandemic, the state shooting sports committee wanted to offer its members something, and since one cannot teach shooting air rifles and archery through a virtual platform, the Pennsylvania 4-H Camera Hunt was born,” said John Taylor, 4-H extension educator.
He explained that 4-H Shooting Sports program strives to teach respect for equipment and the outdoors to its members. Due to the COVID-19, 4-H Shooting Sports across the country has ceased all face-to-face operation. County practices and state and national competitions have all been canceled.
To fill the void, club leaders and members came up with the idea of hosting an outdoor photography contest. Taylor said former educators, photographers, industry professionals and Pennsylvania Game Commission staff held virtual weekly meetings. In those sessions, they outlined the elements of photography, basic camouflage, scouting skills, how to plan for a hunt, turkey-calling skills and what animals in Pennsylvania are considered game.
“Most of the presenters said they have never seen a program like this and can see it growing because it was a unique idea,” Taylor said.
Participants were asked to use their cameras to capture photographs of wildlife in their region. They could not use trail cameras, game park photos or baiting. “They were supposed to conduct a safe hunt, as they would during any given game season,” Taylor said. “It was the intention of the state shooting sports program to use a camera to teach hunting skills and respect for the outdoors.”
Participants received prizes from the National Wild Turkey Federation and local vendors. Categories included big game, small game, furbearer and waterfowl and migratory birds. Categories were broken down into junior and senior divisions, and the results are as follows:
–Junior Big Game: John Clark Bruner, Indiana County
–Junior Waterfowl: Cyrus Bowman, Franklin County
–Junior Small Game: Ann Weikert, Forest County
–Senior Big Game: Elizabeth Bruner, Indiana County
–Senior Small Game: Elizabeth Bruner, Indiana County
–Furbearer: Sam Wilt, York County
“All members did a fantastic job,” Taylor said. “Several instructors, parents and members have remarked about how informative and entertaining the program has been. The Pennsylvania 4-H Shooting sports committee looks forward to hosting the series again in the spring.”
For more information or to join 4-H, visit https://extension.psu.edu/programs/4-h.
–John Taylor, Penn State Extension, Franklin County