MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Hunters gathered to sign-up for the weekly group hunts coordinated by the John A. Lejeune Rod and Gun Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Saturday.
Old acquaintances, friends and family brought a sense of home as they shared stories and jokes, ate grilled food and guzzled cold beverages. The day was nothing like an event sign-up, rather a traditional, American family cookout.
“There’s a great sense of camaraderie within the club,” said Glenn Mayberry, president of the John A. Lejeune Rod and Gun Club. “We want to get everyone involved in hunting and fishing, especially our youth.”
“Our kids are not learning how to enjoy outdoor activities because their focus is toward staying inside playing video games. There are members as young as 13 to those who are well in their 90s that hunt with us,” continued Mayberry.
More than 50 patrons signed up for B-group, one of two hunting groups, that will soon take to the woods and begin hunting. The group hunts are comprised of hunters who are dispersed in line and stationary with a minimum of one-tenth of a mile distance between one another. Dog handlers and hunt masters then utilize specially trained dogs to flush deer to stationary hunters. From Oct. 29 through Dec. 31, group hunts will be held every Saturday for both A and B groups.
“On a good day of hunting, we get about 15 (deer) per team,” said Mayberry. “There have even been days where we’ve shot 25 to 30.”
One of the oldest methods of hunting began with hunting with the assistance of man’s best friend. For quite some time, dogs have lived alongside man, and they have also provided game-changing elements to hunting, such as the ability to chase and track game with their smelling and hearing senses. Dogs were also used to corral and flush game, similar to herding dogs. Dogs clearly provided an advantage for the hunter.
Today, hunting with dogs is restricted in many states throughout the nation, but for the permitted states, it enables people with physical limitations, a chance to start or continue their passion for hunting.
“When people see our dogs, they think that we don’t feed them because they look very lean and muscular,” said Mayberry. “But that’s not the case. These dogs are running a lot and if a dog isn’t fed well, it wouldn’t be able to last through our hunts. They aren’t just out working, they’re also loved pets.”
Hunting officials advise patrons not to capture their dogs because it is illegal to pick-up and feed dogs wearing tracking collars.
“The opportunity to hunt with dogs allows a lot of guys who’d have to give up hunting at a certain age a chance to hunt through their senior years,” said Mayberry. “What I love most about hunting is the silence of the woods and seeing nature do its thing. The second thing I love about hunting is the fellowship I share with all of the members. Another thing about the hunting club is we take care of our senior guys who can’t get out with us to hunt, we make sure they get some fresh meat as well.”
The John A. Lejeune Rod and Gun Club harvest an average of 300 deer a year from the organized hunts. According to Mayberry, the number of harvested deer does not hurt their overall population. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has an excellent game management program because of the funding provided by base license sales that go toward preserving and conserving wildlife and wildlife habitats.
In 1937, hunters lobbied Congress to pass the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, which placed a tax on all hunting equipment. With other funds, which come from things such as the sales of hunting and fishing licenses and equipment, 34 million hunters and anglers in the U.S. help generate more than $100,000 every 30 minutes. This creates an annual total of $1.75 billion that pays for the vast majority of conservation work of wildlife agencies throughout the nation.
“These funds help to make sure that our future generations can enjoy outdoor sports, such as hunting and fishing,” said Mayberry. “This is proper sportsmanship - shooting game and eating it with your family. I haven’t bought a piece of ground beef in three years. I keep ground venison and venison sausage in my freezer.”
Hunting with dogs is a tradition older than many know, and the members of the club understand the importance of preserving and promoting such history. Their members share a common love and passion for the sport and hope for others to join them.
Membership with the club cost $30, with $15 going toward the club’s liability insurance. For more information on the John A. Lejeune Rod and Gun Club, call 382-2750.