By Mike Linn
A group of six from Roosevelt County will compete in an international competition to test their Robin Hood and Davey Crockett-like skills this week in Raton.
The International Youth Hunter Education Challenge is scheduled Monday through Friday and includes competitions in rifle shooting, shotgun, archery, compass and map navigation, hunter safety and wildlife identification.
The Roosevelt County seniors, ages 15-18, recently won the state competition and will represent New Mexico against teams from 33 states, Canada and Mexico.
Winning the competition would suggest New Mexico — and Roosevelt County in particular — is an area populated by sophisticated outdoors types.
“I think if we concentrate as a team, we have a good chance of placing in the top three,” said team member Seth Standefer, whose father Mike Standefer is one of the team coaches. “If we win I would be extremely proud to be on a team labeled the best in the country.”
The team has been practicing for the event for several months, and coaches have noticed dramatic improvements.
“The team has improved very much since the state tournament,” assistant coach Scott Chambers said. “I don’t know if we have a weak area, but there is always room for improvement. They’re all good at shooting.”
Standefer said the wildlife identification challenge can be one of the more tricky competitions. In the challenge teams are asked to identify a species of wildlife based on clues, such as foot prints, antlers and fur.
In previous competitions, Standefer got stumped on the kangaroo and buffalo identifications.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a kangaroo, and when I saw a big brush of brown fur I was clueless,” he said. “But this year we’ve had some good training and plenty of practice. I think we’ll do good.”