GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska – Take ’em Hunting Challenge grand prize winner Adam Paitz of Grand Island is ready to make memories with his family riding his new John Deere utility terrain vehicle, donated by AKRS Equipment for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission contest.
Paitz was selected at random June 1 from the more than 2,175 who participated in the challenge to take along someone new or just beginning hunting and submit their photos online. Paitz, a police officer for the City of Grand Island, took his children, Avery, 6, and James, 5, deer hunting in late November, and while they weren’t successful in their hunt, they had a good time watching other wildlife.
He was awarded the UTV during a ceremony on Wednesday, June 10, at AKRS Equipment Grand Island, also attended by Game and Parks representatives.
“I am extremely thankful to AKRS for their donation as well as others who have donated prizes,” Paitz said. He added that he’s enjoyed seeing other people share their hunting photos and memories with Game and Parks; more than 2,916 photos were submitted, with hundreds being featured on the agency’s social media during the seven-month-long challenge.
“The family bonds and friendships that are created through hunting experiences result in etched memories that strengthen our communities and our state,” said Kent Kirchoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AKRS Equipment. “It has been an honor and privilege to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks to promote the sport of hunting. John Deere products, such as our gators and tractors, are used every day around the state to maintain our great resources both privately and publicly, and we are proud to be a part of that!”
The Paitz family have plans to use their UTV on the extended-family farm, as well as for hanging tree stands and other recreation. The family, which includes Adam, 35; wife, Stacy; and soon-to-be four children — Avery, James, Harper and one on the way — love fishing, camping, boating, and playing on the beaches at Calamus State Recreation Area. They now anticipate hitting the all-terrain vehicle trails near Halsey, too.
Adam Paitz first fell in love with hunting as a child when his dad took him raccoon hunting with hounds. He grew into hunting other species, including deer, waterfowl and upland game, as he got older and met more friends who could mentor him. He’s now paying it forward, teaching his children the joys of the sport.
“Hunting and fishing can be a lifelong sport people can enjoy at any age,” he said. “Hunting is quiet and peaceful for me. It’s a stress relief and a bonus if I can put food on the table.”
On the morning of their deer hunt, the Paitz children got out of bed right away, excited to go, and despite the cold and lack of success, they had fun, the family said.
Jim Douglas, Game and Parks director, said it’s these types of experiences that help inspire the next generation of hunters, who directly fund the conservation of Nebraska’s wildlife and wild places with the purchase of their permits or habitat stamps.
“Everyone had someone teach them, and those are great memories to share,” Douglas said. “We thank and congratulate all of our Take ’em Hunting participants for sharing their passion with others, and we thank our contest partners, too.”
In addition to AKRS Equipment, partners included Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and Scheels, all which provided prizes, such as gift cards or outdoor gear. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to participants drawn randomly.
For more information on the challenge, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmHunting.