Former President John F. Kennedy is remembered for a lot of things. One of them is for his quote, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Individuals make this country great. They see a problem and tackle it head-on.
When those individuals band together for a common cause, a grassroots movement is created that can have lasting impacts on the people they help. We here in Grundy County are lucky enough to have such an organization that cares about hunters.
The United Foundation of Future Hunters, or TUFF Hunters, is one such group. They strive to help the future generations of hunters through hunter education, predator control programs and numerous habitat conservation and restoration programs.
This local Grundy County organization just held a fundraiser this past weekend to help finance their projects. They organized a local predator hunt for coyotes. A local hunter, Danny Rogers, came to the group with an idea for a predator hunt that could also help raise funds. They took that idea and ran with it.
This year's hunters could enter the competition in two-man teams. The entry fee was $25. The teams could hunt from 6 p.m. on Friday until the final check-in time at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening. During this time of year, hunters are allowed to hunt 24 hours a day for coyotes.
There was a prize of $300 for the team with the most coyotes bagged, $50 for the heaviest coyote and the local county bounty of $15 per set of ears applied to all coyotes brought in. A total of 15 teams entered the competition.
The first-place team hauled five coyotes to Babe’s Tap in Coal City for the Sunday evening check in. They cashed in the $50 prize for the heaviest ‘yote as well. It tipped the scales at 40.9 pounds. This successful team was made up of Nick Reid and Cameron Poulish.
The second-place team brought in four coyotes. Team members were Paul Rink and Eric Techmanski.
There was a tie for third place at two coyotes apiece. One team included John Longmire and Eric W., while the other third place team consisted of Adam Gill and Adam Lynn.
A father-son combination rounded out those that brought in something to check-in. Willy Stronk and Steve Stronk bagged one coyote for a fourth-place finish.
All of the team members waived their bounty rewards to keep the coyotes whole and let the TUFF Hunters staff turn them in to a fur buyer to add to their funds raised. This predator control hunt not only helped raised some needed dollars, it also addressed the growing population of coyotes throughout the area.
Some of the other projects that this organization handles include hunter safety courses. Those of you that have been through a hunter’s safety course — or have tried to find one that fits into your schedule — completely understand how desperately we need more quality instructors and courses in our immediate area. This is a wonderful service that TUFF Hunters provide the local community.
They also have been involved in helping out with habitat restoration efforts at the old Coal City treatment ponds. As many of you know, that land has been reclaimed and offers some good waterfowl habitat. TUFF Hunters is working with the city to add Wood Duck boxes and maybe create a viewing area for the public to enjoy the wildlife.
As with all worthy causes, fundraising is a constant battle. The TUFF Hunters are currently selling tickets to their banquet; which will be held in Diamond at the Diamond Banquet Hall. The date of the banquet is March 23. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for youth. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the dinner starts at 7 p.m. There will be raffles, drawings and all sorts of other events planned for the night.
For more information on TUFF Hunters, you can visit their website at www.tuffhunters.com. You can also find them on Facebook — just search TUFF Hunters. Thank you guys for your hard work. If you are interested in participating in the predator control hunt next year, keep an eye out for future information.
I would also like to thank Ben Pogliano for talking with me and getting me up to speed on the predator hunt and what the group stands for. I think Ben summed it up nicely when I asked him what the purpose of Tuff Hunters is. He said, “We are here to take care of Grundy County’s hunting areas.” They do what needs to be done.