“This has been a banner year for bunnies,” said Sam Mardino, coordinator of this year’s Fifth Annual Rabbit Hunting Derby, held Feb. 1 out of the Eden North Collins Gun Club.
Each year participation increases and the emphasis is more on youth involvement than winning a competition, Mardino added. To this end, organizers at the club arrange for youths to either participate if they are old enough to be certified or accompany parents or mentors. Youth hunters join the derby for free.
“Youths who show up all get something for being there,” he said.
After the weigh-in of 97 entries, the team of Darren Dobowski finished first with a 3.65-pound entry.
To encourage young hunters, 17 youths received trophies as part of the awards presentations.
Trophies went to Cassidy and Wyatt Dembowski, Nathan Hoelscher, Garret Schmitt, Tyler Logan and Cody Gemza, Gabe Hofmer, C.J. Colby and Austin Sroda, Max Pitillo, Jenna Coventry, Lucas Demmerley, Dakota Persnike, Santino Cala, and Mason Mardino.
The awards dinner included rabbit stew and Italian sausages along with pizza and wings.
Club president Bob “Bubber” Seufert thanked June, Rich and Sam “Dad” Mardino, Nick Schmitt, Steve Gemza and all who “made our hunt go smoothly and get our youth hunters in the woods.”
The Eden North Collins Gun Club looks forward to an even larger sixth annual rabbit derby in 2015.
Rabbit season continues until Feb. 28 and promised warming conditions could bring out an abundance of cottontail rabbits to finish an exceptional season.