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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

McLean County Sportsmen’s Association

Tue, April 24, 2018

On April 14, 2018 my two boys and I made the trip out to Comlara Park north of Bloomington, IL for a shed antler hunt that was being put on by the McLean County Sportsmen’s Association.  I’d heard about this event for the past 3 or so years and finally made it happen for our family.  Over 100 people showed up despite some drizzle and overcast conditions and over 150 antlers were distributed in the tallgrass prairies.  Each little one went home with at least one antler to add to their collections.  We met some buddies with their little ones and I was able to talk with some of the many volunteers there regarding what the Sportsmen’s Association was all about.  All I can say is that an organization like this is exactly what I’d like to see in the Peoria area—a combination of organizations coming together to get kids outdoors and giving back to their local community through well planned events and fun for all.  I was impressed.

Mike Steffa, Director of Comlara Park and a member of the Sportsmen’s Association, also provided some background that I’ve included below. 

The McLean County Sportsmen’s Association began in November of 1991 as the idea of a business man, Ron Hamilton - then owner of Guns & Game; to promote the positive image of sportsmen.  It began as an association comprising of local hunting & fishing groups such as:

• The Whitetail Bow Hunters
• Mackinaw Valley Bow Hunters
• Central Illinois Bass Club
• Bloomington-Normal Bass Club
• Mackinaw Valley Bassmasters
• Kickapoo Muzzle Loaders
• McLean County Pheasants Forever; and the
• McLean County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited

In three short months these groups completed plans to hold a Wild Game Banquet, the first of a 26 year run.  The purpose of the banquet was to raise money and to help McLean County charities; especially those involved in assisting young children & the great outdoors.  The first banquet raised over $20,000 for local charities, and in the years since over a half a million dollars has been raised to continue helping children in McLean County.

These individuals and organizations are some of those that have been supported by the McLean County Sportsmen’s Association throughout the years:

• American Jr. Baseball Inc.
• Big Brothers & Big Sisters
• Bloomington / Normal Bass Club
• Bloomington DARE Program
• Bloomington Firefighters Food Baskets
• Boating Safety Education Classes
• Boys and Girls Club
• Children’s Discovery Museum
• Children’s Health Care Council
• Comlara Park/Evergreen Lake
• “Custer” Club Unit 5
• DU Green Wing Program
• Easter Seals Camp at Lake Bloomington
• Fishing Has No Boundaries
• Friends of EverBloom
• Good Fellow Fund
• Heyworth Christian Youth Group
• High School Bass Fishing Teams
• High School Wingshooting Teams
• H.O.O.A.H. – Helping Out Our American Heroes
• Hunter Safety Education Classes
• ISU - Metcalf Lab School
• ISU Trap & Skeet Club/Quail Unlimited Chapter
• ISU Bass Fishing Team
• Kids Fishing Derby (Large Derby Held At Miller Park – Bloomington)
• Kiwanis Club
• Legion Baseball
• LeRoy Rifle and Pistol Club’s Youth Program
• Lexington Cops & Kids Program
• Marc Center
• McLean Co. Archery Workshop
• McLean Co. DARE Program
• Metcalf Special Ed.
• Miller Park Fishing Derby
• Muscular Dystrophy Association
• Normal DARE Program
• Panola Prairie Sportsmen’s Club
• Parkside Jr. High Special Ed.
• Pheasants Forever
• Providing Deer meat to the needy
• Special Olympics
• St. Jude Telethon
• Stanford’s Sportsmen’s Club
• Troop 57 Boy Scouts
• Unit 5 Special Olympics
• W.D. Boyce Boy Scout Council
• Well Child Association
• Whitetails Unlimited
• Wingshooting Clinics
• Youth Antler Hunt
• Youth Pheasant Hunts

In addition to these, McLean County Sportsmen’s Association has also provided/funded internship opportunities to college students at the McLean County Department of Parks & Recreation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the ISU Biology Department, and the Illinois Conservation Police.