It’s now been a month since a record-breaking fund raising banquet was held in Ruston when the Lincoln Parish Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited was held with an overflow crowd in attendance.

Although all the statistics are not in covering all aspects of the event attended by more than 600 enthusiastic folks, one of the most impressive things about this year’s banquet was how last year’s banquet captured national attention. In fact, the national president of Whitetails Unlimited traveled all the way down from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to attend this year’s banquet and bringing with him some special awards to be presented to the local chapter.

I was able to sit down and visit with Jeff Schinkten, one of the founders of Whitetails Unlimited and its national president to pick his brain a bit regarding his impression of the local club.

“The Lincoln Parish chapter of Whitetails Unlimited has done a phenomenal job,” said Schinkten. “We have over 500 chapters around the United States and in all those years I’ve been associated with the organization, we have never had a chapter start out with such a bang as your local chapter.

“Part of the reason for such success is the leadership you have here in guys like Glenn Scriber and Marty Edmonds and their outstanding committee.”

Schinkten stated that each year, Whitetails Unlimited gives out three awards for first-year chapters and the Lincoln Parish chapter had a very impressive distinction.

“Last year for the first time ever, the Lincoln Parish chapter swept them all. Nationally, the first place awards for new chapters include highest membership, highest net generated and highest net proceeds,” he said.

This part of the state is popular with deer hunters and we asked Schinkten if this could have led to such an outstanding turn-out for the banquet last year and the one this year that was even better attended.

“Absolutely this is one of the reasons for the excellent attendance and amount of money raised. Also,” Schinkten added, “the fact that half of the net proceeds is spent here in the local community, and is a big factor as well. There aren’t many organizations like ours that allows so much of the money raised to stay in the local area.”

Plans for spending this year’s half of the net proceeds have not been formulated just yet but the prospects obviously are exciting.

“Last year, your chapter spent $7500 of its net proceeds on the local 4-H Shooting team which obviously was extremely beneficial to this group of youngsters. Also, the $2500 you donated for the purchase of outdoor equipment for underprivileged youngsters at Med Camps was impressive as well,” Schinkten noted.

Whitetails Unlimited got its start in 1982 when Schinkten and a friend were attending a Ducks Unlimited banquet in Wisconsin.

“My friend and I were at the banquet where the topic was ducks and we realized all he and I talked about was deer and what could be done to promote these popular game animals. We wondered if there was an organization similar to Ducks Unlimited that focused on deer, and we found out there wasn’t. So he and I got together in my friend’s garage, talked about forming an organization for deer and deer hunters, put a few dollars in a coffee can so we could have postage money to get started,” said Schinkten.

That was in 1982. Today, there are 110,000 members nationally who contribute over $75 million to promote the betterment of whitetail deer.

“I’m looking out at over 600 here in attendance in Ruston and believe me,” Schinkten observed, “it does my heart good to come down from Wisconsin to share it with you folks.”

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden