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  • 04/12/2018 3:00 PM | Joe Hardwick (Administrator)

    It’s been a busy month for our chapter. We hosted our first ever banquet  at Scheels on March 10th. Thank you to our team that got the ball rolling with getting the word out! Then gathering auction items, set-up, cleanup, and everything in between. Everyone I talked with had a good time! We learned from this banquet and will improve on several things for next year. 

    Several root partners joined CTO during the banquet. Thank you all so much! 

    There was so much support from the community. Thank each attendee and those that were praying for us!

    Thanks also to everyone who donated items for out auctions!

    Special thanks to Springfield Archery for donating the table host crossbow & Scheels donating the room for the day!IMG_8638.PNG IMG_8635.PNG

    IMG_8636.PNG

    IMG_8637.PNG Because of you, we have some great news. 

    Our Sangamon County Chapter will be up and running as a volunteer chapter in May

    We will be holding a weekly Sportsman’s nights very soon!

    We will get the word out with dates and topics that we will be concentrating on each meeting.

    Thank you all so much!!

  • 04/10/2018 10:00 AM | Joe Hardwick (Administrator)

    There is a reason they call it “hunting.” Because when you hunt you don’t always bring something home to eat.


    But when you search for the Lord, He promises to be found. I would encourage you to talk with a young man around  campfire at a CTO hunt or camp. Wow, on this last weekend it was 42 degrees and no one wanted to go in and get warm, because we were all warmed by His Spirit. Just like when Jesus told His disciples in John chapter 4, “My food is to do the will of the Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”   

    His will was being done that night and no-one was cold.


    That night there was a bond that was forged and branded. It started earlier in the day, when the CTO hunters and their  IMG_8229.JPGguides worked side-by-side clearing a tree that blocked the path to the field. They even cut chunks of the wood to brand later. What is blocking you from taking a young man hunting? The Lord spent three years with young men. 

    I challenge you to spend three days on a hunt, camp, or local event. You will be changed forever.


    By the way the group did not go hungry. We were blessed to help out at banquet at a church Friday, and attend a NWTF banquet on Saturday. The group reminded me of the disciples again when they spread out at different tables and shared about CTO and the Lord with others at their tables.IMG_8214.JPG

  • 01/20/2018 12:00 AM | Eric St. Pierre (Administrator)

    Our last Outing of the 2017-2018 hunting season was one of great growth spiritually. We studied the parable of the sower.  Explaining the different seeds to the young men and asking them to reflect in their quiet time which seed they thought most reflected them in their walk with Jesus. 

    Their answers were anything but what you would have expected as they shared with each other their shortcomings. Most of the boys were seeking to find a way to go from being the seed that they most relate to, to the seed that produces 30, 60, or 100 fold.  True discipleship happened through Holy Spirit with these young men this weekend.

    We ended our hunting season with a chance to squirrel and coyote hunt at this year’s deer hunting location. This last weekend we had a full house of CTO Sportsmen and Guides. 

    As always it seems the animals, we were set on harvesting, could sense we were coming for them and the hunt started off slow. However we harvested plenty of squirrels by the time lunch was served. None of the sportsmen hit their daily limit, but each of them was able to harvest at least one squirrel on the first day.

    For one of out sportsmen it was his first harvest ever! He was very excited and joy filled and ready for pictures. After we had all gathered back up with our game one of our Guides, Steve, showed everyone how to properly break down a squirrel. Everyone got an opportunity to do it.

    The coyote hunts we did at night. Getting to use the coyote calls and colored lights mounted on the scopes excited the entire group of hunters. Two sportsmen decided to use raccoons, they harvested during the day, and use them as bait for the coyotes. It worked! As they went down with Bear to go to there hunting spot, the coyotes had already beaten them to it. Through some cunning tactics implemented by Bear they were able to get close enough to get two shots off, but unfortunately they came up empty. However raccoons were also in season at this time and unfortunately they are not as sly as the coyotes and therefore were harvested when they presented themselves to the sportsmen to be harvested. 

  • 12/16/2017 8:00 AM | D'Lige Smith-Hughes

    My Name is Brendan I am 16yrs old and this was my First Deer Hunt and first year being apart of CTO. I’ve had a blast spending time with everyone and going to the weekly meetings, shooting bows, and Bible Study with Ralph. 

    This past weekend we went on my third hunting trip, and I had the best time with the guys. I enjoy the positive role models they give me to look up to. Bear, D'Lige, and Joe are always there when I need them for laughs, help, or guidance. They continue to work and help me become the man that I want to be. I was also able to get my first deer this weekend! I was so excited! I got to use the crossbow which was also exciting because I had never shot one before.

    I look forward to the trips with the guys, staying in the cabin, and having fellowship with one another. I appreciate being unplugged from electronics and the social media world.

  • 12/02/2017 3:00 PM | Joe Hardwick (Administrator)

    Early in December, Stephen had an opportunity to go pheasant hunting for the first time. I really think he had a smile on his face all day.  From the time of taking a few practice shots, then watching the first group go out, and listening to their shots, I could tell his excitement was building. We could see their birds fly up then either go down right away or soar off into the nearby fields.

    Then it was the second group’s chance. The first couple Stephen shot at did not go down right away, and someone else finished them off. Then one few up and stayed low flying strait away from Stephen. He was the only one to get a shot.  It went down a little ways away. Brett’s dog brought it back to Brett, and he handed the pheasant to Stephen. Success! I told Stephen he had to clean it. He said “OK”. He ended up with one more bird, and jumped right into learning how to clean them. At the end of the hunt, Stephen said, “When can we go hunting again?” That’s what I call success!


  • 12/02/2017 8:00 AM | D'Lige Smith-Hughes

    The Pheasant Hunt turned out to be a great hunt, we had a more people than expected which made it more exciting and fun. For two of the youth Sportsmen it was their first CTO experience and first bird hunt. We also had 2 new CTO Guides (volunteer leaders) come along bringing their Bird Dogs for us to hunt with and enjoy the CTO experience.

    In order to keep our hunt safe, a high priority for Cross Trail Outfitters, we split up into two groups. Going out in the field one group at a time giving everyone a chance be safe and to take a shot.

    The CTO Sportsmen (the boys) managed to harvest 12 pheasant and afterward learned two different ways to clean and remove the meat from the birds. Each youth got a chance to do this so that in the future they have theses skills, afterword’s we got all cleaned up and headed to Bear’s house so that we could have lunch and Campfire.

    Sometimes when working with the CTO Sportsmen Bear will challenge them to address current events happening in our world. Today’s campfire was one of those times. Bear asked us if we had heard about what was happening in Hollywood about how some men were treating women and children? Everyone knew what he was talking about. We then read Luke 8: 16-18 where scripture discusses things being done in the secret / hidden will be brought into light or made known. 

    We discussed how when we want to do something that we know is wrong we try to keep it from those that we know will disapprove. That this is sin! Sin always wants to be in the dark, hidden away, especially from the people we want to gain approval from. We then reflected over our own struggles and saw the similarities between our “sin” failures, and those of others we know.

    But how does God deal with this sin? Especially if you are a Christian how will God react to your sin?

    He will bring it into the light! Why? Because He loves you! Because He wants you to have the opportunity to reconcile yourself before Him and your brothers and sisters within the Body of Christ! And as men of God how are we to react to our brothers and sisters? We are to show them love, understanding, and forgiveness to help them return to the righteous path that God has for all of us. Unfortunately that isn’t how we as Christians always react to our fallen brothers and sisters. A lot of the time we shun and turn our backs in them. Bear pointed out that when we do that we give them up to remain fallen, and that’s definitely what God doesn’t want of His body. Then Bear asked us to reflect upon our own shortcomings and where we might have tried to hide in the dark then he encouraged us to bring it to the light through prayer. Remember if God trusts you to bring sin into the light He is also trusting you to help in your siblings healing. Don’t let Him down! we are our brother’s keepers you know.

  • 10/14/2017 12:00 PM | Joe Hardwick (Administrator)

    My friend Jim Sullivan shares his experence:

    Hi all, My name is Jim Sullivan with Sangamon County CTO.   My family and I attended the Brett Creager Memorial Youth Event at Sangchris Lake State Park on October 14th.  The annual event is put on by the Sangchris Waterfowlers Association (SWA).  The SWA is a group of waterfowl hunters who donate a lot of their time and resources to improve not only waterfowl hunting at Sangchris Lake but also to improve the lake itself.  

    This year's event saw 85 young men and women attend to learn more about waterfowl hunting. There were activities that included archery, dog demonstrations, build your own duck call, duck identification, and boat safety.  They also had free food for those in attendance and door prize drawings for ALL the kids who were there. They also had drawings for two guns and several youth hunting opportunities.    

    My family and I staffed the CTO table and were able to reach out to kids and their parents to talk about CTO and it's guiding principles of preserving our Faith and our outdoor heritage. I will say based on the conversations I had with parents and kids there is a need and interest in what we do and I find encouragement in knowing that we can reach this young generation.  I spoke with people who lived over an hour away and wanted to know more about how to find or start a CTO chapter in their area.  I met with people who genuinely care about the same principles that CTO stands for.  I have a great hope and faith that God will guide our chapter and make it successful. 

    Jim Sullivan

    "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future".Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • 10/06/2017 2:51 PM | D'Lige Smith-Hughes

    The hunt this weekend was just as fun for the youth as it was for the Adults! With the crazy weather going in the states it has effected hunting too. This weekend was unusually hot and the deer weren’t moving as much as a result. We hunted hard, but no one was able to harvest this outing. However, we were able to see all types of other animals, and got to experience the excitement of hunting.

    We had 2 sportsmen hunting for the first time with CTO, and it was also their first time deer hunting. They were very excited to get in the field! In the evening we spent time building relationships through playing a card & dice game called Fill or Bust. The game is played by turning over a card and having to roll dice to score. The card dictated what type of bonus you got, or allowed you to take points away from your opponents. The game is fun for all because there isn’t a strategy and it can only be won by dumb luck; allowing everyone to be on an even playing field.

    Later all of the adults pranked the CTO Sportsmen’s by setting up deer decoys and we pretended they were real. Then Bear snuck around the house with a big stick and killed the deer with it, adding to the “Legend of Bear.”

    We may have been unsuccessful in the woods, but we were blessed to be successful in our ministry. One of our sportsmen, who has been apart of CTO for about 2 years, accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and is now part of the body of Christ. There have been many times throughout the years where the question, “Who has excepted Christ in their life to be their Lord and Savior?” and he would never raise his hand or say anything. Then when the question came up during the deer hunt he RAISED his hand!

    He said that he came to this decision to follow Christ through his CTO experience.  The amount of time we spend in prayer, quiet time, bible study and “Question of the Day” questions all contributed to his change of heart. Also, through the fellowship that we have with each other, how we’re not afraid to open up to one another and still have a positive view towards each other helped him better understand who God is and why He died on the cross for us.

  • 09/01/2017 12:00 PM | D'Lige Smith-Hughes

    This past August has been fun & busy for CTO, A New CTO Sportsman named Brendan joined CTO this past summer camp and has been regularly attending our weekly Sportsmen’s Nights. He also attended and event with me called “Canaan Safe House” where two local churches partnered to put on an event in Hessel Park and asked CTO to set up a small archery range.

    The goal was for us to help the children served by Canaan Safe House to be able to learn archery. At first Brendan was nerves about helping and showing the kids the proper way to shoot, but after watching me and giving it a few try’s he got the hang of it and soon I was able to step back and watch him take over for a little bit.  This is how we help our CTO Sportsmen develop confidence and leadership skills.

    We also had our quarterly Family Night at the end of August where the boys celebrate with their families. We enjoyed stories from summer camp, food, and plenty of deserts. We played games and had prizes for the Winners, one game we played was “Indian leg wresting’” suggested by Bear, which was fun for the parents to watch their boys do this difficult task.

    Now that its September we are getting ready for Hunting season, next weekend is our Upland Bird hunt and we cant wait to get the boys out in the field and harvest Pheasants, Chukar, and Quail. Pray for us that we have a safe trip there and back, but not just for the up coming hunt but for the rest of the hunting season. Also pray that we teach the boys to harvest animals in God’s name, and not for the purpose of just hunting for hunting’s sake.       

  • 08/26/2017 12:00 PM | Joe Hardwick (Administrator)

    This year’s Hunt Expo was a great experience for our Sangamon County CTO Chapter. Scheels set us up in a great location. Friday was the start of high school football, so it was a slower evening.  The guests that did come out did not feel rushed, so we were able to talk longer. Several young men we talked to were really into hunting and not football. They were looking to buy our hats and t-shirts we had on display. We may have to consider this as a form of advertising.

    Saturday was busy from the start. The dog shows really brought the families out. There were several younger boys that were interested and excited about CTO. Some of the parents said their sons were taking a break for Boy Scouts and looking for something to do. We had some interest from young ladies too. We communicated we would like to have a girls group as soon as we can get a female leader to start a club with-in our chapter.

    Over all, it was a great partnership with Scheels. We would definitely want to attend next year. We all felt more like a team while we served side by side. I want to thank the Sangamon County team members who worked the booth, Lou, Nick, Jim and Alex. Also special thanks to D’Lige from the Champaign County CTO chapter for his help.


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