Willy Wapiti’s 2<sup>nd</sup> Annual Smoke Pole Biathlon will take place on Saturday, December 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Curtis Creek in the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Sponsored by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the event is free of charge and includes five muzzleloader target areas placed along a wooded snowshoeing trail. An orientation range will be provided for beginners, who will be invited to participate on the course once they’ve learned how to load, shoot and reload their firearms.
“This is the only event of its kind that I’m aware of in Northern Utah, and maybe in the state,” said Brad Hunt, WMA manager at Hardware Ranch. “We started it last year because we wanted to give the public more opportunities to recreate up here. We thought it would be a neat way to get people excited about coming to Hardware Ranch.”
As they navigate the ½-mile course, participants will shoot at two targets in each target area and will be judged on both speed and accuracy. Last year’s tournament drew more than 30 entrants, and Hunt is hoping for a larger turnout this year.
“I’d encourage all muzzleloaders to come out and try our course,” he said. “Also, if you’ve never shot a muzzleloader before and just want to try the orientation range, you don’t have to do the course. It’s an opportunity to say you’ve tried something you’ve never done!”
While Saturday’s forecast predicts cold temperatures with a chance of snow, the event will take place regardless of the weather. In case of insufficient snow for snowshoes, participants should bring good walking boots. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own shooting equipment.
Hardware Ranch is located on Highway 101 in Blacksmith Fork Canyon, 15 miles east of Hyrum. More information about Willy Wapiti’s 2<sup>nd</sup> Annual Smoke Pole Biathlon is available at <a href=”http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/willy-wapati.html”>www.wildlife.utah.gov/willy-wapati.html</a>. Registration for the event is available online and must be received by December 16.
Willy Wapiti’s Smoke Pole Biathlon Fun Facts:
<ul><li>The competition is named after Hardware Ranch’s longtime mascot, Willy Wapiti, described by Hunt as a “young bull or spike elk.”</li><li>The term “smoke pole” refers to the colloquial name of a muzzleloader. The competition will allow both traditional and modern muzzleloaders, with those terms referencing how the powder charge in a gun is ignited. The two divisions included in the competition are “antlered” and “antlerless,” referring to “male” and “female.”</li><li>The event is divided into three age groups, Calves (under 16), Adults (ages 16-65) and Seniors (65+).</li><li>Prizes will be awarded in each division. A prize will also be awarded for the participant who is dressed in the best Mountain Man attire. </li></ul><hr />