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Operation Orphans/Camp Gene Ashby

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The Board of Directors of Operation Orphans, Inc. has selected four dates for doe hunts during the forthcoming whitetail season. They are the following Saturdays: October 29, November 19, December 3 and January 7. The October date will be an all girls’ hunt, while the remaining dates will be all boys’ hunts.


This is the 57th year of the “Take a Child Hunting” program. To date, Operation Orphans, Inc. has hosted 18,280 youngsters with a total game harvest of 17,980 animals. Interested individuals are encouraged to check the Operation Orphans, Inc. web-site for information and videos of the program (www.operationorphans.org). During this program, landowners from the surrounding hill country allow children from child care facilities to harvest deer from their property. Ranchers use the “Take a Child Hunting” program as a means to reduce the over population of does and feral hogs and to get buck to doe ratios in order. Landowners and hunters also participate in this program to help educate youngsters about the outdoors and provide a worthwhile outdoor adventure field trip. A summer fishing program was added in 2004. Thus far, 747 kids have participated. The hunting and fishing programs are offered free of charge to the children’s homes.


Operation Orphans, Inc. provides the children, guides, and food for the activity. The guides which Operation Orphans, Inc. provide have successfully completed the Hunter Safety Course. Some landowners wish to provide their own guides. One guide is assigned to each child. During the girl’s hunt, a woman or a man/woman team serves as guides. All guides will have a background check. The meat which the childcare facilities receive from these hunts helps to relieve some of the burden of their rising food costs for the year. Some facilities use the meat in their outreach programs.


It all began when the late Gene Ashby, a State Game Warden, realized the Hill Country, primarily Mason and Llano counties, had an excessive deer population and needed a means to reduce the deer numbers. He approached some local ranchers with the idea of allowing orphans to harvest antlerless deer. They liked the idea, and Operation Orphans, Inc. came into being. Housing the young hunters was a problem, so another idea was realized. With backing from sportsmen’s clubs throughout Texas, and other concerned individuals, a 320 acre tract of land on the North bank of the Llano River in Mason County was purchased from a generous landowner at a fraction of its market value. Through donations, a kitchen/dining hall, three dormitories, showering facility, and basketball court were built. In 1994 an orientation and recreational building, The Milton & Janie Jordan Building, was constructed. It includes a clothing room which allows the kids to obtain boots, coats, jeans, and other clothing items that are donated by concerned individuals. The camp is managed by a supervisor who resides at the camp. Camp Gene Ashby, named in honor of the founder of Operation Orphans, is today a beautiful facility capable of housing and feeding 250 visitors.

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