Cancer took the life of John W. Maness in 2009, but it could not kill his family’s hunting heritage. On Saturday, Feb. 22, his son, Jeffrey, held the fifth-annual Relay For Life benefit shoot at the Shady Knoll shooting preserve near Asheboro, raising more than $5,000 for the charity.
Jeffrey’s grandfather, the late John. M. Maness, trained champion bird dogs and guided hunters during the glory days of North Carolina quail hunting. In those days, wild coveys haunted the edges of the farm fields. John M. passed the bird hunting lifestyle down to his son and grandson.
Now, the 160-acre Maness farm remains in the family though bordered by suburbs. Still, the family keeps a bit of its hunting tradition alive, raising game birds to ship across the country and running a shooting preserve. On Saturday, hunters enjoyed a European tower hunt for pheasants and skeet shooting, then enjoyed lunch while being serenaded by a local bluegrass band before raising more money with a silent auction and raffle.
John W. Maness’s brother David, stayed busy while his granddaughters, 13-year-old Sara Greg, and 12-year-old Awna Greg, blasted away at flying pheasants thrown from a 30-foot tower. A Labrador retriever named Skeeter fetched the downed birds.
“This is a wonderful way to have a good time and support a cause like this,” David Maness said. “My brother would love it.”
Brandon Williams from Asheboro loved the chance to work his yellow Lab, Maker.
“What a great way to support Relay For Life,” he said. “There is great fellowship and dog work, and I love the smell of gunpowder.”
As pheasants flew over the treetops, shooters scored more misses than hits but kept smiling. Kernersville’s James Bryson and his 14-year-old daughter, Katie, took a stand with their black Lab, Dash, finally sending a bird to the ground, prompting Dash to spring across a field and return with a mouth full of pheasant.
“Now Dash looks happy,” James Bryson said. “We are practicing for a North Dakota pheasant hunt this fall. This is a great way to have fun for charity and it gives a positive outlook for hunters.”