Fishing skills

COME offers mentorship, scholarship and life skills to young people in the region | New


The Christian Outdoor Ministry Experience (COME) held its seventh annual wild game dinner on Saturday night serving a small crowd at the Blackford County Fairgrounds. The menu included deer sausage with cheese and crackers, fried fish, turkey and noodles, pulled duck, sloppy joes deer, deer chili, squirrel pie, slow cooker bear, smoked alligator, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, buns and assorted desserts and drinks.

This year’s event also included raffles, door prizes, a silent auction and a live auction. Items up for auction included everything from assorted hunting gear such as duck decoys, bows and guns, to fishing trips, artwork, handmade knives and even a made rocking chair. by hand. As this is the organization’s only major fundraising event for the year, all proceeds go towards funding the group’s activities. This event typically provides about half of their annual budget. The rest comes from donations and grants. “We had to skip dinner last year because of Covid,” said organization founder Rich Hill. “I think people are ready to come out and start to get back to normal,” he continued. “We don’t have as many here tonight as we did at our pre-Covid dinners, but I think, all things considered, it’s a pretty good result,” Hill said.

COME is an 11-month, nonprofit faith-based program that allows 11-17 year olds to partner with mentors who teach outdoor survival skills, hunting and fishing while instilling Christian values. The organization was founded eight years ago by Rich Hill, a resident of Blackford County.

Hill was born and raised in Blackford County and raised in a staunch Christian family. In his youth, he developed a love of the outdoors. At the age of 15, he learned to hunt deer, which quickly became a way of life. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to hunt many types of game including elk, bear, antelope, turkey and many more. As he grew older, he discovered that he wanted to share his love of hunting with the younger generations. He also wanted to share his faith with others. He felt that God was showing him his calling and what would become the outdoor Christian ministry experience was soon born.

Hill passed the idea on to Gary Hall who moved from the Chesapeake Bay area of ​​Maryland to Indiana in 1979. Hall had been hunting deer, small game and waterfowl since he was seven years old. Coming from a coastal region, he also had good experience in fishing, clam and crab. Hall jumped at the chance to pass these skills on to a younger generation. Hall helped found the organization and became its vice president.

Hill and Hall were soon joined by Dan Christman, from Hartford City. Christman has been hunting and trapping since the age of nine and passed his love of the outdoors on to his children. He believes that it is important to pass on these fading skills to the young people of today, and COME gave him this opportunity.

The event began with Gary Hall offering a blessing before the meal. Instead of having a guest speaker, two of the youth in the program, Addison Flores and Scott Winger, spoke about how their involvement with COME has impacted their lives. “When I got into this group, I never thought it would become my passion,” Winger said. “Not only did I learn to handle different types of game and make knife and duck calls, but they taught me to be prepared, to be patient and to be persistent. So many lessons, these are some of the best people I’ve met, ”he continued. “The guides are great, between them they have years of experience. I like to hunt with all of them, ”he added. “I want to thank everyone who came out tonight and all the sponsors who help make this program possible,” Winger concluded.

Addison Flores echoed many of Winger’s comments. “Not only did I learn to harvest different types of game, but they also taught me about gun safety and many other skills,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories from the program are my first turkey hunt and the fishing trip on Lake Erie where we caught walleye,” said Flores.

“I’ve never met a girl like Addison,” said Hill of Flores. “She always has something to say and is not afraid of anything,” he added. After the speeches, as people finished their meals, the auction began. The auction was overseen by Rusty Harmeyer and Scott Shrader of Harmeyer Auction and Appraisal Company of Rushville.

COME holds two monthly meetings where they teach skills such as archery, hunter safety, trapping and tracking. They take trips that involve hiking, canoeing, fishing, and hunting various types of game. Throughout the experience, mentors pass on wisdom and values ​​to young people, including respect for rules and regulations and respect for the property of others. Values ​​that are sorely lacking in today’s society.

COME is a fully insured non-profit organization. “It costs us about $ 12,500 per year to continue this program,” Hill said. “All the money raised tonight is reinvested in the program. Most of the money to fund next year’s program will come from tonight’s dinner, ”he explained. “We really appreciate all the support this community has given us,” said Hill.

COME provides all the necessary equipment, interested young people only have to pay for their hunting license. The organization currently has 35 guides, or mentors, but could always use more. Anyone wishing to help or participate in any way should contact Rich Hill online at, by calling 765-499-9858 or by mail at 2318 E. County Rd. 600N. Hartford City, IN 47348. Hill has already been asked, “How will you know if the program has made a difference?” He replied: “If I can tell the difference for one person, it will be a success. It’s amazing to think that in the seven years of our existence, we have had an impact on the lives of 460 children who have completed our program.