"The suggestion has been made that the fishermen of the community organize a rod and gun club for the principle purpose of stocking the streams with trout each season," according to an article in the June 25, 1915 issue of the Surface Creek Champion (1904-1943).
Eight years later (May 19, 1923) an article in the Champion stated, ". . . a number of men met at the office of J.M. Conner and discussed the feasibility of organizing an association for the protection and propagation of fish and game in this section. It was unanimously decided that such an organization had much to do and was badly needed.
"Accordingly, the Cedaredge Rod and Gun Club [came] into existence with J.L. Patterson, president; L.C. Jackisch, first vice president; [George] Hawkins, second vice president; J.M. Conner, third vice president; [and] Frank Laschke, secretary-treasurer."
The Champion also noted that among the original 16 members who had paid their $1 dues, Charles Cooke, E.G. Hammock, A. Andersen, E.P Nichols and C.W. Brewer would make up the executive committee. It was later noted that in order to attract younger members, boys between the ages of 16-21 could join the Club, with dues of 25¢ per year.
Based on the recommendation made nearly a century ago, the Cedaredge Rod and Gun Club was organized and has been in existence for nearly nine decades, making it one of the oldest clubs of its kind on the Western Slope. And now, having grown from the original 16 to more than 200 paid members, club secretary Ray Hanson noted that it is one of the largest clubs of its kind on the Western Slope.
According to various articles in the Champion, during those early years the mission of the newly formed Rod and Gun Club was "to work with other like organizations on the western slope in the construction of retaining ponds for young fish, to work for a larger and better hatchery at Cedaredge, [to] assist in protecting game and fish and numerous other minor activities."
At the time, the Grand Junction Rod and Gun club had been advocating a hatchery at the Cottonwood Lakes, located on the Grand Mesa in Mesa County. "But," according to the Champion, "thru the special efforts of the local hatchery superintendent, Otto Peterson, they were asked to investigate the enlarging of the Cedaredge hatchery to conform with the plans of the state game and fish department."
In response to Peterson's request, members from the Grand Junction Rod and Gun club met with members of the newly formed Cedaredge Rod and Gun Club to discuss the situation at the Cedaredge fish hatchery.
The Champion reports, "After being shown thru the local hatchery and listening to the proposed plans the visitors promised to use their influence to the end of enlarging the [Cedaredge] hatchery to meet the needs of the entire Western Slope."
The enlargement and enhancement of the Cedaredge Fish hatchery became a top priority for the Cedaredge Club. Members planted trees around the fish hatchery to provide much needed shade for the retaining ponds.
In addition to working with the local hatchery, members also donated money to the Cedaredge Volunteer Fire Department; paid for and installed a large "Grand Mesa" sign at the north end of Cedaredge; planted rice, lily buds and celery around Hart's Basin and Baron Lake to attract ducks; fed pheasant and quail populations during the winter months to prevent starvation; replanted a large number of spawning trout that had escaped from both Baron and Eggleston Lakes on the Grand Mesa; paid to have young fish (fry) transported to the Granbys and released; donated money to the Cedaredge Library and local baseball clubs; sponsored turkey shoots and Keno parties to raise funds; helped formulate and influence early fishing, hunting and boating regulations on the Grand Mesa (including bag limits); and, in the winter of 1937 made a recommendation to close the Grand Mesa to elk hunting, "since the portion of Gunnison County now open, has been shot out." Club members also recommended that women be required to have a fishing license "the same as a man."
Hanson noted that in the early 1950s club members also worked with wildlife officers to reestablish the elk population on the Grand Mesa. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the elk population on the Grand Mesa in the 50s was relatively low. Club members also advocated for a full time game warden for Delta County.
According to Hanson, the founding fathers, like today's members, were farmers, ranchers and fruit growers — environmentalists in their own right — who worked the land, were concerned about the environment (wildlife and fish habitat in particular), loved the Surface Creek Valley and the sports of hunting and fishing. Club members worked with the state to stock the local hatcheries and lakes with fish. They carried containers filled with fish fry in backpacks or "in hand," to pour out into the lakes (as opposed to dropping them from an airplane), on horseback or by walking in to those lakes (rather than trucking them in), so as not to abuse the trails.
While many clubs and/or organizations offer a wide range of worthwhile activities for youth in the Surface Creek area, few of them do so at no cost to the young people or their parents. The Surface Creek Valley is fortunate to be home to one of those few clubs who do — the Cedaredge Rod and Gun Club.
According to Hanson, today's club members are, for the most part, focused on promoting ethical hunting and hunter safety, and for nearly five decades the club has sponsored competitive "Senior Shoots" for Cedaredge High School seniors, providing the firearms, ammunition, instruction and a lunch, all at no cost to the thousand-plus students who have taken part in the shoots, nor their parents. (Hanson noted that the first Senior Shoot took place in 1961).
The students receive instructions in firearm safety (a prerequisite of the Senior Shoot) before competing with each other by club members, who also serve as coaches. Hanson said club members are proud of the club's long-standing tradition of providing the senior shoot, an event that many of the club members took part in "umpteen years ago," when they were seniors at CHS.
Club members also provide area youth — 4-H Club members and others — with a facility that can be used for hunter safety courses, also at no cost. One member, Chuck Dalpiaz, has even gone so far as to fire up the clay pigeon traps and offer instructions to young people who had come out to the range just to practice and sight in their weapons.
The club's shooting range and facilities, located at 1800 R75 Rd., offers members and guests an outdoor pistol range, a rifle range, a muzzleloading range, trap shoots, sporting clays, and an archery range. The land for the range was donated by the Palmers and Roy Perkins and, according to Hanson, has seen more than $30,000 in upgrades over the past 10 years.
Hanson added that the club boasts of six "lifetime" members — Todd Fairchild, Doug Hamilton, Pat Marah, Gene Young, Phil Starr, Roland Shepherd and Bart Andrews. The lifetime membership is a result of longevity and service to the club, explained Hanson.
Most of the information regarding this brief history of the Cedaredge Rod & Gun Club came from archived club minutes dating back to 1947 and various newspaper articles from the Surface Creek Champion, collected and provided by local author, Ronn Brewer.blog comments powered by Disqus