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[Sat Sep 25 2004]

CARTERVILLE -- Sitting in her portable chair and holding her Barbie fishing pole, 11-year-old Kayla Pierce waited for the perfect fish to rise out of the pond at John A. Logan College.

"I can fish a lot better with it," said the two-year fishing veteran from Johnston City, looking at her newer rod.

Pierce and her parents were just a few of the people surrounding the pond hoping to catch some of the many bluegill and catfish that were placed in the pond for Hunting and Fishing Days.

At 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Pierce said she had already caught two fish.

"One catfish and maybe a bluegill or bass," she said.

She spends most of her time fishing on her aunt's pond back home, she said. This is her first time going anywhere else.

At the Buckskin Village, kids took their turns throwing a hatchet at a log target. A few managed to hit the middle of the target, while others sent the hatchet flailing into the haystacks safely placed behind the targets.

Vendors in Buckskin Village showed off their products, some made from animal hides and hand-sewn.



Don Schilling, of Slimskinner Roadkill Inc. from Sparta, said he was selling his tanned animal hides but was also there to educate people about the way of life that American Indians used to live and the history of fir tanning.

"People send me bear hides and moose hides," he said. "It takes me about two weeks (to tan them)."

For 35 years, Schilling said he has been tanning furs and he sells everything from deer hides to caribou, fox, coyote and skunk hides.

If he could live to be 500 years, Schilling said he would like to learn how to tan hides with the animal's brain, like the American Indians used to do.

Instead, Schilling said he soaks the furs in chemicals and after a week they are taken out, dried, thinned, washed, oiled and finally tumbled.

Schilling said he's been coming to the Hunting and Fishing Days celebration since 1991.

"I try to come every year," he said. "I come for the family to share there's a way of life that's fading fast."

Watching a demonstration on identifying Illinois birds, Jared Freeman of Mulkeytown said he can't wait until the day he can take his 7-month-old son Cole hunting.

"It's a big hobby of mine," he said.

Already Freeman has bought Cole camouflage bibs and a hat that reads "Daddy's Little Hunter."

During bow season, Freeman said he's in the woods almost every day.

"It's kind of relaxation," he said. "It's peaceful."

But before Cole gets to go hunting, maybe when he's 5 years old, Freeman said he's going to teach his son about respect for animals and time management -- things he said are important to remember when hunting.

Back on the pond, Steve Morris, from Carterville, was trying to teach his 5-year-old son Peter a little bit about fishing.

Morris said his son had been waiting a week for the festival.

"I'm just learning," Peter said. "We had a few get away." 618-529-5454 x15804

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