HUMBOLDT — For the Humboldt Wildlife Federation, moving its clubhouse was the finishing touch of a multi-year project that also included building a new gun range.
Heavy rains two years in a row had flooded the range, so Scott Ewen, the vice-president of the federation, said the club made a decision.
“We decided to build a new gun club,” he said.
The federation owns a long rectangular piece of property, with the clubhouse located halfway down.
“We moved the clubhouse to the front of the property and then we had to create seven-metre-high by 100-metre-long dirt backstop to pass federal regulations,” Ewen said.
Ewen drew on his background in construction to plan out the projects, with Steve Stier at his side
“He was like my right-hand man when I was there, and he was the boss when I wasn't.”
Throughout 2015, the federation held between 20 and 30 work bees with six to 15 volunteers each at the site. By November 2016, the site was certified by the chief firearms officer.
In the fall of 2018, the clubhouse was moved to its permanent location.
“The clubhouse is now on a concrete slab and foundation where it will permanently be sitting so in the future we’ll be renovating the club house in order to make it more usable,” Ewen said.
Power in expected to be installed in the spring.
The federation now charges a fee for the gun range so it can keep up with maintenance. The range has three .22 calibre ranges, four rifle stations and two handgun stations. A shotgun station may come in the future.
There are also four places for archery, at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. At this point, the federation doesn’t own archery targets.
Promoting archery in schools is another focus of the federation.
The federation has a National Archery in the School Program (NASP) kit at Humboldt Public School and is working to expand that to the high school and two Catholic schools.
Ewen said high school students come to Humboldt Public, learning the sport under the mentorship of Jamie Zalusky.
“They have a high school archery team that comes out on Sunday to shoot,” he said. “These kids love this program. They take part of the weekend to come and do it.”
The bows used in the program only require 20 pounds of force to draw, compared to 60 pounds for a hunting bow, making the bow safter to use – as well as accessible to many type of people
“The NASP program is so widely used because any student can do it. You don't have to be super athletic,” Ewen said. “You can do it while you're in a wheelchair. We have some disabled students doing it. Girls do it. Boys do it.”
Another projet the federation is involved in is the trail that goes from behind the Canadian Tire and goes south past the antique club.
“We're really proud of our wildlife nature trail that was developed approximately 10 years ago,” he said, adding he remembers that he and Ed Brockmeyer drove loaders to build the trail.
The trail is used by walkers and runners alike.
“The best part of it all is seeing it come to fruition, because it's so widely used now,” Ewen said.
Ewen said the goal is to keep the trail somewhat rustic and connected to nature.
“We do own another couple miles a trail which we hope to develop going south, which would actually link Humboldt up with the new subdivision at Humboldt Lake.”
The federation also does a little maintenance at the Kloppenburg Wildlife Preserve, cutting grass and bushes if necessary to improve access to the cairn and a sign that’s out there.
“t's not a big job,” Ewen said. “It's maybe 20 minutes worth of work, but the work still needs to get done. When we’re driving around on the country, we've seen all kinds of people checking out that wildlife refuge.”
Along with those projects, the wildlife federation has dreams for the future.
“We have some some dreams of possibly a trout pond someday, but we have so much on the go right now that we have to really we have to finalize and make what we got good right now before we spread ourselves way too thin,” Ewen said.
Other wildlife federations with trout ponds have local schools hatch some of the eggs, providing an education opportunity.
All of these projects require fundraisers, with much of the finance work being done by Murray Freistadt. One of the federation’s bigger fundraisers, its fish fry and awards night, is happening next week.
“The fish fry is our our largest fundraiser of the year,” Ewen said. “We cook for around 300 people.”
Three fish dishes will be served: pan fried, deep fried beer batter and secret spice blend patties.
There will also be 38 awards handled out to hunters and fishers for their exemplary hauls.
The fish fry will be held Friday, March 15 at St. Augustine Hall, with doors opening at 5 pm and supper at approximately 6:30 pm. Tickets can be brought from Jason at the Humboldt Motors Body Shop during store hours, or from Ewen at 306-231-4165.