By Barbie Porter


Ryan Strugar wants more people to enjoy the great outdoors and know the love of Christ. 

The Dent resident teamed up with two faith-based organizations to provide those opportunities to children from around the state­­—Feed the Fish and Fishing for Life. The latter just held a turkey hunt that Strugar helped organize.

Contributed photo
Ryan Strugar holds up a turkey he captured. The Dent resident was part of a recent turkey hunt held in the New York Mills area to introduce youth from urban areas to the outdoors and faith-based adventures. 

It was the first year for the hunting expedition that was available to kids younger than 18. Strugar found Fishing for Life on social media.

“The guy that runs the organization was looking for someone to outfit kids (for spear fishing), and my name was  mentioned,” Strugar said. “They needed spearing equipment for 22 kids, and it sounded like something I would love being involved with.”

The spear fishing event was put together in a week, provided a lot of chaotic fun, connections with the youth and an opportunity to share their faith.

Strugar was talking with the organizer about different outdoor activities, and turkey hunting came up. The organizer said he would love to offer the opportunity to the youth, but the logistics were roadblocks for him.

“I told him people up here do not love turkeys,” Strugar said. “There are large chunks of land with a lot of turkeys.”

Strugar had the connections to remove the roadblocks. He gained support from the Perham Sportsman’s Club, received donations from area hunters for equipment for the hunt and was granted permission  from landowners. He noted most of the land that was used for the turkey hunt spans from north to south of New York Mills.

“CNS donated calls and Krafty Kudu provided custom engraving and made hats to donate to the kids,” Strugar said, noting it was a true blessing by all those that supported the effort. 

The kids arrived Thursday night and were assigned to a place to stay. Campers and fish houses were provided as needed. 

“We are a religious  organization and have a faith-base curriculum,” Strugar said, noting the connection to nature, God and each other are a big part of the long weekend spent outdoors with the youth.

Friday was filled with training. The ever important safety tips were presented to ensure a good hunt as well as lessons on how to shoot a gun for the best chance at bringing home a turkey dinner. 

“We taught them about calling, decoy placement, blind placement, where to shoot on a turkey and much more,” Strugar said. 

Members of the sportsman’s club provided gun demonstrations, covering all types of firearms from muzzle loaders to pistols. All participants were given the opportunity to shoot each firearms so they could understand the difference in how they load, handle and experience the firearm’s aiming and shooting capabilities.

Then on Saturday and into Sunday morning, the 14 young hunters were in the fields, each with a guardian or volunteer to assist in the adventure.

The vast majority of the kids had little to no experience hunting, Strugar said, noting about two-thirds of arrived with a guardian.

“We have about 16 volunteers, most from the cities but a handful were from the Perham area,” Strugar said.

The hope is the event will become an annual one in the area, and other outdoor activities are also offered. He also hopes to expand the outdoor adventure opportunities to local youth.

“It is great to serve people in the cities, but there is also a need here, too,” he said. 

Anyone interested in volunteering at future outdoor youth events, donating equipment, potential land usage contacts or funds are asked to contact Strugar at (218) 343-2717.

Strugar also provides his assistance to Feed the Fish, which is an organization based out of Dent and provides fishing excursions and lake days for area youth.