Special to the I-O by Lisa Schmidt
People who come to the Pondera Shooting Sports Grand Opening will enjoy good food, have a chance to win fantastic door prizes and get the opportunity to bid on a multitude of silent and live auction items, all while supporting Pondera youth and an important part of Montana’s culture.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Wendy Judisch, who is organizing the celebration for Oct. 9.
The Pondera Shooting Sports Club (PSSC) Grand Opening is the culmination of local citizen grit and tenacity that turned an acre of farm ground into a community gathering place, a home for 4-H shooting sports, a meeting room for Hunter’s Education and private parties, as well as a safe, warm place for shooting enthusiasts to shoot 3-D archery and small bore competitions.
A new set of trap houses, voice-activated pat traps and handicapped accessible lanes were upgraded for the trap shooters.
This has been no easy-chair project. Instead, people who believe in the multitude of benefits that shooting sports offer gave their time, sweat, money and equipment – and sometimes even a little blood – to make their vision a reality.
“Documented contributions top more than $450,000 during the past two years. Even more hours and quiet contributions were never submitted, so this is a very conservative estimate,” said Pondera County Extension Agent Dan Picard.
The public is invited to celebrate these efforts at the Grand Opening banquet and auction.
“We hope people will come out to see what we’ve done, enjoy good food, see their neighbors and celebrate with us,” said Jack Judisch, president of the PSSC.
Proceeds from the silent and live auctions will be used to help pay off an existing loan for the building.
“We have all kinds of things for the auction,” said Jack Judisch. “There will be something for everyone there.”
Three premier game bird hunts – one specifically for youth or women – and a complete whitetail hunting package top the list of auction items.
The Sharp-tail and Hungarian partridge package offers a one-day, four-person hunt in the scenic foothills of the Sweet Grass Hills.
This is truly a native prairie hunt, comparable to when Lewis and Clark came through 200 years ago. A local resident will accompany four hunters for this exclusive access hunt. Dirt road travel on the ranch creates a great opportunity to discover large flocks of late season sharp tails. Bid winners should prepare for walking. The hunt will continue until limits are met or until daylight runs out. This is a 2010 hunt.
The one-day, late season, two person pheasant hunt for youth and/or women provides access east of Brady in prime pheasant habitat consisting of continuous reservoirs and wheat grass and alfalfa.
The owner has done an excellent job developing and preserving this land for pheasant hunting. Buyers of this auction item will have a 2010 quality hunt with ample opportunity and birds.
The Premiere Pondera Pheasant Package includes two days of hunting access for four people, two nights at the Northgate Motel, breakfast for four people at the Home Café during both mornings and access to at least three different properties that offer some of the best pheasant hunting in Pondera County. The habitat varies from Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and grass waterways to continuous cattails and garrison creeping fox tail adjoining harvested crop land. Bid winners will be hunting some of the highest populated pheasant cover in the area and will be accompanied by one local person on some of the properties for their convenience.
This hunt will take place in the months of November and December, 2010, depending on when the buyers can hunt.
A two-day whitetail hunt offers access to an area that produces 120- to 170-class whitetails. Habitat includes CRP and cropland in river breaks along the Marias River. The property adjoins the Lincoln Ranch recently purchased by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The landowner will accompany the winning bidder so the hunter can recognize property boundaries. This hunt can be used in 2010 or 2011.
Other auction items include: quilts, fine engraved jewelry, rifles and shotguns, ammunition, paintings, a bronze, a finely-crafted knife, custom arrows plus too much more to list.
Everyone is encouraged to attend the Grand Opening, but if other commitments prevent attendance, people can call in bids for auction items.
Wendy Judisch hopes families will attend. “The Grand Opening will be especially fun for families, with door prizes and drawings for everyone,” she said.
The social hour will begin at 5 p.m., with a roast beef dinner served at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the Grand Opening banquet at the Pondera Shooting Sports Complex are $25 for adults and $15 for youth who are 14 or under. Advance ticket purchases are encouraged, but dinner tickets will be available at the door, too.
Tickets are available at Custom Crop Care in Conrad, from Michelle Botsford or any PSSC director.
For more information or to ask questions, contact Botsford at 781-0196, Scott Johnson at 590-3256, Bruce Martin at 450-0322, Brad Birch at 450-4508, Randy Brenteson at 289-0483, John Shevlin at 788-6908 or W. Judisch at 289-0496.