Young Guns: Pops’ hunting influence led teens to international shooting titles

Most hunters remain giddy for season to begin
December 1, 2014
Lawman finds fish arresting: Terrebonne Sheriff Jerry Larpenter setting records within hobby
December 1, 2014
Most hunters remain giddy for season to begin
December 1, 2014
Lawman finds fish arresting: Terrebonne Sheriff Jerry Larpenter setting records within hobby
December 1, 2014

William Powell and Doyle Donaldson II are sure and steady with a rifle.

William, 13, of Thibodaux, and Doyle, 17, of Houma, proudly represented Terrebonne Parish, handily winning the junior and senior divisions, respectively, at the International Youth Hunter Education Challenge in July at Mansfield, Pennsylvania.

“It was awesome,” William’s dad Chris Powell said. “The whole team did phenomenally well. … It was an exciting year for the whole team.”

Terrebonne’s YHEC program has competed successfully for nearly the past decade, winning both the junior and senior state championships.

In the junior division, William faced 98 competitors, while Doyle beat out 102 seniors. The four judged events in the competition were shotgun, archery, muzzleloader and .22-caliber rifle.

The shotgun competition included five stations where hunters shot four clay targets with either a 12-guage or 20-guage shotgun. In archery, bow hunters had to hit vital areas of game targets at distances up to 30 yards. The muzzleloader portion required shooters to hit silhouette targets while standing, sitting and in the prone position. Distances range from 25 to 75 yards from the target. Similarly, the rifle shooting competition required the same target distance and firing positions. Shooters had the option of using a 3-by-9 variable scoop.

Doyle’s father, Doyle Donaldson I, was equally thrilled for the team.

“I like to see not just him, but anybody have a moment of glory. I know he has tried hard and practiced a lot. One of his biggest goals was to place first at the national level,” the elder Doyle said. “I felt like I was more excited than him.”

William joined YHEC two years ago after hearing about it from a friend.

“I thought it would be fun, so I joined,” he said. “In the beginning, I did not know a whole lot of people. Once I made it to nationals my first year, I met a lot of people from around the country. I met people who like to do what I love.”

The teen’s love for shooting developed at an early age. It is a trait learned from his father’s love of hunting.

William attributes his accuracy to his dad’s extra attention to make sure he stayed safe.

“He used to give me one shell instead of three or four, so I had to make my shot count,” he said. “That taught me to be accurate and safe.”

When he’s not competing, William enjoys duck hunting, saying, “there’s never a dull moment.”

“I got really good with a shotgun because there is a lot of action and it is always shooting during the hunt,” he said.

The very first duck William targeted, he hit. But that’s not to say there aren’t off days, which he’s learned to take in stride.

“When I shoot badly, I just try to shake it off and look forward to the good days,” he said. “It just so happened at Internationals, I was having good days.”

An eighth grader at E.D. White Catholic School, William plays trumpet in the band. He hopes to attend Texas A&M and join the university’s clay shooting team.

“You have to be really good to make it on the team, so that is one thing I am hoping for,” he said of future plans.

Fellow titleholder Doyle is a senior at Terrebonne High School. He plays baseball and intends to attend Nicholls State, ultimately transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette to major in mechanical engineering.

Doyle has been a member of YHEC since he was 10 years old. He mentors many of the younger teammates.

“I believe if you act responsible around younger kids, then they will follow,” he said.

Doyle’s father described him as being “calm and collected” in competitions, which serves him well. “He doesn’t get hyper and he is not a bragger,” the elder Doyle said. “When someone has an issue, he is more than willing to help out, whether it is a competitor or someone younger. It doesn’t matter to him because he wants to see people do their best.”

Like William, Doyle learned to hunt at his father’s side. Doyle bagged his first deer when he was 8 or 9 years old.

“I was shaking from excitement,” he said. “It happened so fast.”

“Even at the age of 50, I get excited every time I hit something and I have been hunting since I was 10,” the teen’s father said. “Any time we have had a successful duck or deer hunt, I get excited for him.

“When he shot his first deer, I think I was shaking more than he was. I thought he would miss because I was shaking the stand.”

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