Hunters' Benefit To Begin Saturday Morning

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Kevin McClellan and Tom Rebischke spent a good part of their Friday out on Lake Pokegama.

"Kevin and I usually have a fishing trip or contest each year with about eight of us, and we decided to turn it into something bigger."

They're Eau Claire Firefighters who share a love of the outdoors, like a friend of Kevin's who is related to one of the victims of the hunting tragedy in Sawyer County.

"Seeing how it impacted him personally, I really took it to heart."

So he enlisted the help of his co-workers to put together the Rice Lake Hunters Memorial Ice Fishing Contest.

"Anything outdoors is an influence for all those families, they love the hunting tradition, they love the fishing tradition so we're here to capture both."

Organizers said they have no idea how many people will show up to this thing, but they're seeing a good sign at area hotels and motels. Many of them are already booked up.

Businesses have chipped in, donating door prizes.

Those who are wearing a blaze orange band will be eligible to win as they show support for Wisconsin hunting and those victimized in the fall.

"I just grew up hunting and appreciated the tradition and want that tradition to continue and thought this was a good way to help," Rebischke said.

McClellan agrees. "Inside we feel we've won. We've done something good for families that really need our help."

The guys said those families may not even show up, but they want them to know everyone who does come to the contest still cares.

Registration begins Saturday at 8 a.m. at Gilligans in Chetek.

The contest is on three area lakes: Pokegma, Chetek, and Prairie.