Area youth gathered on February 15 to enjoy several activities at the ninth annual Ben Sapp Shed Antler Hunt held at the M.W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center. The event is hosted by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Mark Twain Lake in partnership with the Monroe City Whitetails Unlimited Chapter, the Mark Twain Lake Visitors and Educational Resource Center Committee, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Mark Twain State Park.
The event was dedicated in memory of Ben Sapp, who was previously an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Sapp was involved with the event previously. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee, Mary Heitmeyer, shared, “Ben was involved in the organization of the event when he worked at the State Park and with the Corps of Engineers. He loved the event because it got kids and their families outdoors. It was only fitting that the event has his name.”
The event started at 8:30 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. providing a hunt to approximately 216 children, who were pre-registered for the event. Upon arrival, guests checked in, receiving a goodie bag which included a t-shirt and several other items.
The Visitor Center lobby was filled with informational booths from various groups highlighting information on deer and other related outdoor topics throughout the day. Booths demonstrated how to score antlers, showcased products made with antlers with examples of knives, lamps, whistles and several other ideas, furs, bow and arrows and crafts. Booths also included different animal pelts and youth were able to see different types of wild animals on display at the visitor center.
Every hour the center would announce a hunt for guests to be escorted to the woods to find the antler sheds. Each child was allowed to keep one antler shed to take home. Several kids were seen with smiles on their faces as they hunted to find the antler sheds.
New to the event this year was the opportunity for each child to build bird houses. Youth were asked to help build a bird house to donate to the blue bird trail project with the help of the Master Naturalists. They were also encouraged to build a bird house to take home for their own enjoyment with the assistance of the NARFE. Children enjoyed learning how to make the bird houses and appeared proud of their hard workmanship.
The high school students of the Monroe City R-1 National Honor Society volunteered their time to assist with the event. The students helped serve lunch, worked the registration desk and tended the fire pit for children to warm up after their hunt. The children also enjoyed the eagles nest on display outside. Youth climbed in the nest to have their picture taken as a memento of the days event.
After returning from the hunt, guests were encouraged to enjoy a lunch provided by the Monroe City Whitetails Unlimited Chapter. The organization served grilled hot dogs, soup, chips, fruit, snacks and drinks for everyone in attendance. As the meal was enjoyed, there was a wildlife movie playing for all to enjoy.