CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two rising stars in the world of exhibition shooting will headline this year's National Hunting and Fishing Days celebration at Stonewall Jackson State Park.
The Gould Brothers, shotgun experts from Minnesota, will perform one-hour shows on each day of the Sept. 28-29 event.
"Aaron and Steve do some awesome things," said event coordinator Krista Snodgrass. "Aaron does a one-handed push-up shot, and Steve does a 'limbo' shot. They started out shooting with [legendary exhibition shooter] Tom Knapp."
Knapp, who had performed in past years' celebrations, died April 26. Snodgrass said the Gould Brothers were the logical choice to replace him in this year's lineup.
"Their shows are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Sept. 28 and at 4 p.m. on Sept. 29," she added.
Another exhibition shooter, archer Byron Ferguson, will also help headline the event.
Ferguson, whose feats have been featured on cable TV's "Impossible Shots" and "Extreme Marksmen" shows, performed all the trick shots seen in the 2010 movie, "Robin Hood."
"He does amazing things like splitting playing cards in half and shooting coins out of the air," Snodgrass said. "He'll perform two shows on each day - at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, and at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 29."
The event's third headliner, Curtis Fleming of the Outdoor Channel's popular fishing show, "Fly Rod Chronicles," will hold what Snodgrass called a "meet-and-greet" appearance between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sept. 29.
Though he travels the world taping angling adventures for his weekly show, Fleming, a Bridgeport native, routinely dedicates entire episodes to popular West Virginia fisheries.
The celebration's fourth headliner isn't a person, it's a thing. The Hawg Trough, a gigantic aquarium filled with trophy-sized fish, will be on display all during the event. Snodgrass said a new sponsor, the Friends of Coal, arranged for the popular display's return to the Stonewall event.
As always, a huge variety of displays and presentations will keep attendees busy. Some of the more popular ones include a display of live birds of prey by Howard and Jason Caldwell, bird dog presentations by Rodger Lundell, fly fishing demonstrations by Jack Bell and Joe Messinger, a waterfowl hunting seminar by Joe Austin of DOA Outfitters, and seminars on West Virginia snakes by Jim Fregonara.
"If you want to see the snake demonstration, get there early," Snodgrass cautioned. "It's one of the weekend's most popular attractions."
Another popular attraction is the Wild Game Cooking area, where culinary arts students prepare deer and other wild meats for show-goers to taste. "People love it. The kids will give out samples and recipes," Snodgrass said.
This year's edition of the annual Outdoor Youth Challenge promises to be bigger than ever. The challenge, which guides youngsters age 6-18 through a variety of outdoor experiences, has steadily grown in popularity.
"Last year we had 1,300 kids participating," said Snodgrass. "We're planning on having 1,500 this year."
All the youngsters in the challenge will be eligible for prize drawings. The two grand prizes are West Virginia lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.
Participants in the 11-18 age group can compete for additional prizes in five scored competitive events that include casting for accuracy, archery, .22 rifle, muzzleloader and shotgun (skeet) shooting.
The challenge will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.
In a significant change from previous years, Division of Natural Resources officials have eliminated the $1 admission fee for young people. Youngsters 15 and under will be admitted free. Adult admission will be $6.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.
This is a partial schedule of attractions and events for West Virginia's annual celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days, Sept. 28-29 at Stonewall Jackson State Park:
Saturday, Sept. 28