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Somerset sportsmen's club overcoming heartache

This has been a tough year for the Jerome Sportsmen's Association and for Paul Deist in particular.

The Somerset County club is an active if small one. It hosts the rifle teams from two high schools, North Star and Conemaugh Township, which won a state title last year. It does an annual cleanup at Quemahoning Reservoir. It does habitat work on public lands and hosts hunter safety courses.

But the club saw fire destroy its main building in September. And Deist lost his 27-year-old son, Adam, to melanoma a few months earlier.

Both are moving on.

The club is exploring rebuilding options. And Deist has taken over the club's annual predator hunt, the name of which has been changed to the Adam Deist Memorial Predator Hunt.

In just its third year, the hunt is not a large one, compared to some others around. But Adam's goal was to make it into a successful fundraiser to support the club's rifle teams and other programs.

He was an avid sportsmen, a rabbit hunter who raised champion beagles, a raccoon hunter and a shooter who loved working and playing with the high schoolers, his dad said. He worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, too, as part of a food-and-cover crew in Fayette County, doing habitat work on state game lands.

If the hunt succeeds in helping others get involved in similar activities, it will be a success, his father said.

"I don't want to brag up my son, but he was a good man. We went to work every day. He never gave me any problems. And he loved the outdoors," Paul Deist said.

The hunt that bears his name will be held from 12:01 a.m. Jan. 28 to 6 p.m. Jan. 30. Registration costs $15; the club keeps $5 of that, while the rest goes into the prize pool. That entitles hunters to enter animals in one predator category. They can enter other categories for an additional $5 each.

The winner of each category -- based on the weight of the animal -- gets 50 percent of the prize money and a plaque. Second place gets 30 percent and third place 20 percent.

Registration is due by Jan. 27. Forms are available by calling Deist at 814-483-0084, Harold Coughenour at 814-479-4905 or Ron Telenko at 814-242-2574.

"We're just a small hunt yet, but this is something Adam wanted to do to help the club, so I'm working to keep his name and legacy alive," Deist said.

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