Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Nine-year-old Zoee Schuster started hunting two years ago because it was something her father and her older sister were involved in.
She said what she enjoys most about the sport is, “finding the something you’re looking for.”
On Aug. 18, Schuster put her skills at finding that something to good use at the 14th annual NKS Youth World Championships Hunt in Millersburg where she and other area youth competed to see who was the best at tracking down squirrels and raccoons using hunting dogs to tree their prey. The contest, which was sponsored by the Show-Me Cur and Feist Club, drew competitors from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Schuster, who took fourth place in the Place Novice Squirrel Hunt and also awarded for Excellence in Achievement in School and working with dogs, said she got into the sport because it is a favorite family pastime.
“My dad hunted a lot, and my sister goes turkey and deer and coon hunting,” she said.
Her mother, Lydia Schuster, added that Zoee’s great-grandfather and grandfather also were hunting enthusiasts, as well as Lydia and all of Zoee’s siblings.
“It’s fun, it’s outdoors and it’s something we can involve the kids in — it’s something different than a video game,” Lydia Schuster said. “It teaches them a lot of discipline.”
Having been recognized for her work with dogs, Zoee Schuster said the secret to training a good hunting dog is not to get to serious with it.
“You have to not give them any pressure, and make them have fun with it,” Schuster said. “We always take them out for a few days before the hunt.”
Schuster’s cousin, Brett Ryan, also competed at the championship, finishing in fifth place in the Novice Squirrel Hunt.
Ryan, 5, of Millersburg, said his favorite part of the contest was that he won a gun and “a lot of prizes.”
“I just like winning stuff and it’s kind of fun,” he said.
Asked what his favorite thing about hunting is, Ryan offered a similar answer to his cousin.
“I just like walking around in the woods and finding neat things,” Ryan said. “Sometimes you get things to eat like deer meat.”
He said the secret to raising a good hunting dog is that “you just have to train them and you have to be a great trainer.”
Eight-year-old Elexis Clark of Fulton said she also got involved with hunting because of family influences.
“Well, my dad made me do it first, and then I started to like it,” Clark said. “I enjoy all of it. You have to look for all of your squirrels and coons in the trees.”