1025 Sportsmen Redlands Squirrel Hunt
80 hunters joined for hunting, fellowship, food and the Word.
It had been 23 years since I stepped foot on Redlands WMA in pursuit of critters. A return trip was certainly overdue, and Saturday, Jan. 15 was the perfect opportunity to take a trip down memory lane. The occasion was the 2nd Annual Squirrel Master Classic with a great group of folks who run a ministry called 1025 Sportsmen.
“The 1025 Sportsmen ministry is a division of the Men’s Ministry at 1025 Church in Monroe. The ministry began as part of a vision that our Pastor Tommy Fountain shared to reach more men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 2018,” said Brian Scarborough with 1025 Sportsmen. “God’s beautiful creation has provided a wonderful opportunity to reach people who are involved in activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. The purpose of our ministry is to introduce men, women, boys and girls to Jesus Christ through their exposure to the great outdoors.”
The Squirrel Master Classic is a half-day squirrel competition where buddies form teams of up to eight hunters and see how many squirrels they can tally up before a noon gathering at the check station. The winning team gets a trophy and bragging rights for one year.
My team consisted of Chuck Hester, Steve Shaw, Lea Shaw and Clayton Kennedy, 12, of Bowman.
Clayton was tasked with picking our team name, and in about 30 seconds, we were the “Tree Rat Assassins.”
“The Squirrel Master Classic serves as our annual kickoff of ministry for the year,” said Brian. “Our aim is to make each of our events Gospel centric, that is, even though we are hunting squirrels, the purpose of the event is to share the Gospel. Each year the competition hosts 50 to 100 competitors of various ages and outdoor skills. Some are introduced to hunting and the great outdoors through this event.
“This year, we had the opportunity to co-host this event with FCA Outdoors. This partnership provides us with an even greater platform to reach students from our local school systems. We look forward to broadening this relationship in the future.”
With my fellow Tree Rat Assassins scattered out, I was hunting solo. My strategy was to find a place with no truck and park. Not exactly rocket science selection but it was my plan on a cold, January day with predicted snow, sleet and ice 24 hours out. The incoming storm was surely perfect timing for squirrels to be out loading up on food before hunkering down…
Just after daylight I was sitting against a big oak on top of a hill looking into a beautiful creek bottom. Five minutes, 10, 15… a ruckus of sorts. A critter of some flavor was making its way across the top of a hill behind me. It wasn’t the squirrel I was hoping for but a small 8-pointer. Then came a 6, a spike and a fawn. Those four deer crossed right over where I walked in and didn’t have a care in the world. They were gone as quick as they showed up.
Three antlered bucks in single-file line on heavily hunted Redlands WMA that I could have hit with a rock. Has that ever even happened to me before?
I eased my head back around to look down into the hardwood bottom, now completely confident all game would be in scurrying mode…
Over the next four hours I hunted a quarter-mile stretch down that creek bottom and never laid eyes on a squirrel. After texting with the Tree Rat Assassins, they had seen a few out-of-range squirrels but were also empty-handed. So at 11:30 I licked my chops and headed toward the check station to see how bad we’d been beat.
You want to guess how many squirrels 80 hunters killed? Let’s just say I’m glad hot dogs, chips and cookies were served for lunch. Spencer Knight with Team Minerva Mad Lads pulled a fat gray squirrel from his hunting coat pocket. That was it, one squirrel. We had a winner.
Want to know what won the previous, and first, Squirrel Master Classic? One squirrel.
Think you can do better? More in a minute on your chance next year.
Despite the slow hunting, you’d never know it with all the chuckles and good-natured teasing over lunch. Chuck Hester with 30-30 Ministries provided a devotion after lunch, and then Brian awarded the 2022 Squirrel Master Classic Champs, the Minerva Mad Lads, with the trophy.
This event was well run and one I’d certainly recommend to someone looking for a good morning event in January 2023. This year’s hunt also allowed me to learn a little bit more about 1025 Sportsmen.
“In the spring and summer months, we host various fishing events and cookouts,” said Brian. “As we approach the end of summer, we teach hunter-education courses on the campus of 1025 Church. Each course has great participation. From our understanding, we have hosted the largest hunter’s education gathering in the history of the state of Georgia.
“In the fall of each year, we are actively involved in each hunting season. In September, we provide lunch and hydration for the dove hunters at the Redlands WMA youth dove hunt. In October, many of our men provided guided hunts at Clybel WMA. In November, we partner with 30-30 Ministries to host a deer camp in Morgan County for families. Throughout deer season, many of our men donate venison to needy families and food banks.
“When they are not in the woods or on the lake, many of our men serve the Monroe Area High School community by managing the concession stands at home football games. Doing this, allows those who have athletes on the field the opportunity to enjoy the game.”
By 2 p.m. I left with a warm feeling about this group of men and women who sacrificed a Saturday to make sure 80 folks heard about Jesus.
“We had a great turnout for our second annual competition,” said Brian. “Redlands WMA provides a great location, and Andy Jordan with the Department of Natural Resources has been an excellent host each time. Those who attended had a great time, many memories were made and friendships created. We look forward to having the hunt again next year!”
It maybe a year out, but put this event on the back burner of the brain box. Sometime in late 2022 you’ll need to contact 1025 Sportsmen and let them know you’re coming. If you want to contact them on their other events, go to the 1025 Sportsmen Facebook Page.
The 1025 Church’s website is http://1025.church. The church office can be reached at 770.266.1013. 1025 Sportsmen leaders can be reached directly at 678.602.9875 or 770.776.9254.
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