Your Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


A Day at the Mudhole, or Was it the Maryland Youth Hunter Education Challenge?

Jack Deatherage, Jr

"Ahh! Oh my GAD!" My feet hit the floor Saturday night around 11 o'clock. My right leg had various muscles cramping in turn as I staggered about the bedroom and down the hall trying to stretch each muscle as it pulled tight. (I told the left leg not to dare cramp as I've been through that before- lying on the bed with both legs knotted in cramps, tears soaking the blanket as I gasped and gritted my teeth trying not to scream. Begging Wanda to get a gun and put me out of my misery.) But one leg? I can walk that off. And I did after nearly fainting in the hall.

The cramps were expected. Thankfully they weren't as bad as I had feared they would be.

Saturday started with an early morning drive to the Mayberry Archery club over the other side of Taneytown. Somehow, I'd become the archery coach for about 8 kids who were part of the Izaak Walton League of America, Frederick Chapter House #1. Through some further misjudgment I'd filled out a form stating I'd act as "coach" to the kids at the Maryland Youth Hunter Education Challenge held in early June at Mayberry. (I thought I'd follow the kids to the archery course, watch them shoot and go home early. HA!)

I stepped out of the van at 6:35 in the club's parking area. It was raining, but I had a raincoat. The lane that led through the woods to the camping/kitchen area is about half a mile long. Mostly uphill, though sometimes I thought it might have sloped downhill. Flowing water made ruts where it didn't form mud flats. I looked for the kids I'd be assisting for a few hours- then back home to a hot shower and dry clothes. It was 7:30 when the first of my group started sloshing into the kitchen pavilion. It was still raining.

At 8:15 I was handed two score books, an event schedule and told to shepherd the 8 and 11-year-old boys about for the DAY! In the rain? All day? What had I gotten myself into?

By lunch the kids were soaked but having a ball. I was soaked and not having fun! We had been held up at the shotgun event when a radio controlled clay pigeon thrower finally broke down from the rain. Ever stand with two young boys in the mud while it continues to rain and more kids begin to gather behind you while everyone tries to maintain a cheerful attitude? No? I recommend the experience. Taught me to be patient!

At one point I was asked if I thought the day should be "called" and the events finished Sunday, hopefully with better weather. I turned to my young charges and their expressions decided that! Quit now? We're having too much fun! "Let's finish it." I laughed. It was raining.

At about 2:30 it finally stopped raining. By then we were on our way to the rifle event and that was very interesting. Earlier in the day the crick had flooded into the rifle range and kids were wading knee deep to the shooting stations, plus they had rain to contend with. Sometime during the day a ditch had been dug to drain the area as the crick receded. My kids only had to deal with the swamp and mud left behind. By this time I had a mantra going.

I was born wet and cold. It has always been wet and cold. The world has always been made of mud. I like rain and mud. There is nothing but rain and mud. The sun is evil.

The fellows directing the rifle event were cheerful and laughed at my sandaled feet, when I managed to pull them free of the muck. Most people I met were laughing at the rain, the younger kids thought the whole day had been great, shooting and playing in the mud and water. What more could a kid want?

I found out Sunday morning when I went back to see how our kids had fared overall in the competition. The kids discovered they could run down the pond bank, drop on their bellies and slide for yards on the wet, muddy grass! (I'm glad I had left at 5 PM.)

Were the leg cramps, and the hours-spent cold and wet a fair price to pay- for what?

The grin on a boy's face after having shot second highest scores in his class at archery, the first time he competed! (Using a borrowed bow that wasn't quite setup for him.) Or the 11-year-old who missed 21 of 25 clay pigeons, but was strutting proud he'd hit four! Hit the four that the 18 and 19 year olds had been missing all day. Or another 11 year old who had waded through water and mud all day to finally lay down in the mud to shoot his rifle, an event that takes the steadiest hand. He had the second highest score in his class.

Yes it was worth it. The only thing I can think of that would have made the day perfect would have been a team of kids from Emmitsburg. Or even one kid.

Read Other Articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.