By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
NEBO, Ill. -- Melissa Bachman, a nationally recognized hunter and hunting show producer, was the speaker at the 14th annual Oakley-Lindsay Foundation Sporting Clays for Scouting event held Wednesday at Heartland Lodge.
Bachman, 28, featured on North American Hunter, looked right at home telling a crowd of shotgun enthusiasts about her experiences hunting in Africa, Quebec and at several U.S. hot spots.
"When I was in high school my parents signed a work permit, so I could start classes at 10 a.m. and go bow hunting for deer before school," Bachman said.
She turned that passion for hunting into a career, working as an unpaid intern at North American Hunter after she graduated from college. She was later hired as a producer and then became a featured hunter after videotaping her own hunts and offering them to the company at no cost.
Her career has blossomed, and she now gets to hunt about 200 days a year. She also has become a walking ambassador for Illinois deer hunting after shooting a 202-inch deer in Schuyler County several years ago and shooting other deer in the 160- to 170-inch class.
A record crowd of more than 150 shooters shot sporting clays to raise money for the Mississippi Valley Council of Boy Scouts of America.
Event coordinator Fred Cory said the original shoot was seen as a different spin on fund-raisers such as golf outings.
Gary Mertz, Scout executive and CEO of the Mississippi Valley Council, said the sporting clays shoot is a major source of funding for the council.
Gary Harpole II of Harpole's Heartland Lodge said the event is one of the largest the lodge hosts each year. The number of shooters this year required a few extra shooting stations and lots of volunteers.
Shooters dined on steak after the event, bought auction items and took part in raffles.