Sports

Islanders bag a turkey for Thanksgiving

Lincoln Mongillo reloads his Beretta 12-gauge shotgun in the midst of a trap shootoff against Jim Lalone at Sunday’s Turkey Shoot at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club. BELOW: Though on the range to watch friend Rhonda Baxter shoot trap, Merilee Bengtsson, right, tries to give Baxter’s shotgun a more peaceful look by placing a daisy in the barrel. - Matt Johnson
Lincoln Mongillo reloads his Beretta 12-gauge shotgun in the midst of a trap shootoff against Jim Lalone at Sunday’s Turkey Shoot at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club. BELOW: Though on the range to watch friend Rhonda Baxter shoot trap, Merilee Bengtsson, right, tries to give Baxter’s shotgun a more peaceful look by placing a daisy in the barrel.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

For Rhonda Baxter, nothing brings back good childhood memories more vividly than spending a weekend morning on the shotgun range with her dad.

Oran Downs, Baxter’s father, taught his little girl well in the days the whole family lived on South Whidbey. A regular trap shooter now, Baxter can often hit 25 of 25 clay pigeons or “birds” on the range. Even though her accuracy was not up to that standard at Sunday’s Turkey Shoot at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club — she hit 9 of 25 — she got to spend the day with dad and shotguns.

“I really enjoy the trap,” she said.

One of 39 shooters at the annual shoot, Baxter — who now lives in Briar with her husband and daughter — was trying to use her skill as a marksman to win a Thanksgiving turkey. While she did not find much success on the range that morning, many others did. Twelve-gauge shotguns in hand, most of South Whidbey’s best shooters turned out for the event to shoot at 2,500 clay pigeons out of the sky at the club’s two trap ranges. For their pains, they took home 65 turkeys and dozens of empty ammunition boxes.

Five sharpshooters — Mike Helland, Johon McClennen, Chuck Rasmussin, Don Goodfellow, and Bill McDermott — distinguished themselves multiple times on the range, winning three trap shoots each and bagging three frozen turkeys as their prizes. In all, 65 turkeys went home with winning shooters, a higher success rate than any Pilgrim with a blunderbuss and a forest full of wild turkeys could have imagined.

The real payoff came in the competition, however, as the men and women who turned out to put shotguns to shoulders use skills under pressure they practice year round.

Clinton’s Lincoln Mongillo conquered any competitive jitters early when he scored a first-round victory in a shootoff. Armed with an over-under Beretta and shooting at about 50 yards, he knocked nearly every clay bird out of the sky he saw. With four other shooters in his flight, Mongillo moved across five positions, shooting from each until only three men remained.

Then the men moved several yards back from where they started. After three position changes, Mongillo and Clinton’s Jim Lalone were left. For the final round of shooting, the two stood at the back of the trap range and took shots at clay birds more than 100 yards distant. At that range, they did not hit many, but Mongillo hit enough to win.

Though the format was not Mongillo’s favorite, he took home two turkeys Sunday and a fair amount of pride. He said he prefers Continental trap, an event in which the clay birds are fired to mimic different flight patters and ground-dwelling animals.

While Mongillo was claiming his first turkey, Baxter, her family, and several friends who turned out to watch the event were having a good time even without a bird in hand. She said she was even happier than usual to come back to the rod and gun club this time because she and her husband, Kent, brought along their newly adopted, 13-year-old daughter. The girl has already started shooting pistols on the range and one day soon, Baxter said, may be at the club shooting with grandpa.

She said she can’t imagine a better place for a child to learn a skill.

“Everyone here is so friendly and so helpful,” she said.

The club will hold another turkey shoot in December. Unlike Sunday’s shoot, that event will be open only to club members and their guests.

Other multiple turkey winners Sunday included Lloyd Heggenes, Harvey Friesen, Mark Dumke, Mark Racicot, Mike McInerney, Brian Sterba and Dan Sousa.

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