The biggest fundraiser for the Ponoka Fish and Game Association brought top area hunters together last weekend for a night of swapping stories and recognition.
Perhaps the proudest winner of the night on Feb. 1 at the Stagecoach Saloon was Jenna Abt, 6, who captured the only fishing trophies of the club. The biggest mountain whitefish was 2.2 inches, a bull trout at 13.3 inches and a cutthroat trout at 12.1 inches.
Each of those fish, she caught over a weeklong vacation in Alberta with her family. They did not have weights for the fish as the area was catch-and-release but her father Dustin Abt, said Jenna did the work to reel them in.
“I was with her but she did it all on her own,” he said proudly.
How did she feel at the catch?
“At first, creeped out,” said Jenna.
But it did not take long to get past that, Jenna has been fishing for the last three years and enjoys being with her family. Jenna and her father took the measurements of the fish and pictures for posterity and then released them back into the water.
Another big winner was Brian Prins, who won the prize for best non-typical mule deer with a bow at 185 4/8 points and best typical whitetail deer with 156 7/8 points. For the non-typical award, Prins spent about 10 days hunting and scoping out the deer.
He asked permission from the landowner before he could hunt on the land. Prins’s luck was with him that day. He was with a friend at the time and won a paper, rock, and scissors game for first shot at the deer.
“We knew he (the deer) was good because we saw him before,” said Prins.
His hard work and hunting paid off. Prins was able to get the deer with his bow at 25 yards away.
The whitetail deer took two years of observation. He was with some friends at the time and cycled out to a hunting shack close to home — bringing a truck would scare off the animals — and waited. He saw the deer and watched for about 15 minutes. “I wasn’t sure it was the right deer.”
Big Game chair Ray Abt said the fundraiser night generally fills up. Wild game meet is always on the menu and hungry attendees had their fair share of pheasant, deer, moose, duck, goose and fish. It is a big night for everyone, including organizers, he said.
Last year the association’s membership was at 640 people, up 240 from the previous year, said Abt. He feels the reason they see strong support is because of the programs they offer. Many of their programs work to benefit kids, the community or the club. “We’re a conservation club.”
The club raised approximately $8,000 from the event.