Another successful year for the Ponoka Fish and Game Association was celebrated on the weekend.
A full house of around 320 people enjoyed a huge banquet of game meat and other delights at the Stage Coach on Feb. 2. In addition, a total of 27 awards were handed out to members for their hunting and fishing exploits in 2018.
The highlight of the awards were the presentations to several youth members.
Conner Hoag took the award for largest moose with a rifle in the junior big game category with a score of 175.3 — outmatching Ponoka’s adult big game category winner John Wynnychuk’s 128.1 by a wide margin.
Meanwhile, Adam Hoag captured the other two junior big game awards — Elk with a rifle and bear with a rifle.
He scored a tremendous 300.2 on the elk, utterly destroying the mark earned by the adult big game category winner Brady Swier’s 165.5, while his bear score was 18.1.
Association past president Leonard Davis noted that Hoag’s moose and elk were the largest taken in the region, and shows how the organization is committed to its youth.
“We are continuing to grow with our youth membership and they are starting to dominate out in the field as well, as demonstrated by this pair,” he said.
“Both of them out shot our senior members and both also won the top central Alberta award for their categories. That’s a good thing for the association. A lot more of our senior members are taking the kids out and it is beginning to show in the results.”
Davis added the youth movement will keep growing as the club’s youth summer camp — which is open to the entire community — continues to sell out the 20 available spots quick, showing interest remains strong in the sport.
“It’s important to teach the youth that they need to respect the land, the people who own the land and also the animals, as we always want it to be about a fair chase,” he added.
As for the junior fishing winners, Rhys Davis walked off with the trophies for biggest burbot at 5.12 lbs and whitefish at 3.5 lbs, while the biggest rainbow trout at 17.6 inches went to Jenna Abt and the biggest walleye at 3.88 lbs went to Isabelle Prins.
It was like shooting fish in a barrel for Greg Abt, who won four fishing catch and release awards. He caught the largest rainbow trout (23.5 inches), norther pike (39.4 inches), brown trout (25.6 inches) and walleye (28.3). They kept the other two catch and release awards in the family as Ray Abt caught the largest cutthroat trout (18.8 inches) and bull trout (27.7 inches).
On the catch and keep side, Phyllis Walcheske took a pair of awards — walleye (2.3 lbs) and whitefish (2.1 lbs) — with Brian Rutherford getting the award for top burbot (4.5 lbs).
A straight shooter — Bryan Walcheske — was the winner of the whitetail (152) and bear (19.1) archery awards. The other archery award for mule deer (164.5) went to Eric Shippy.
The rest of the adult big game category winners included — Shane Jensen, bear (19.4); Dustin Abt, antelope (70); Lorne McClaflin, typical mule deer (262); Kelly Christensen, non-typical mule deer (165.7); and, Rob Johnston, typical whitetail (146.5).
Meanwhile, Tom Simpson’s Canada Goose at 12.6 lbs was the only bird category this year.
Davis noted it was great to see such support for the association, given the tougher economic times — especially the numerous contributions and donations from area businesses, the public support at the event itself and from all of the members who helped out.