In an age when screen time can be the most important thing in life for teenagers, Karson Jegeris and Eveneau Rasby are focused on outdoor time.
The two high-school juniors from Rapid City would rather sit in a tree stand waiting for a deer or lie in a snowy cornfield watching for ducks and geese than hover above a cell-phone or computer screen.
In that respect, they’re bucking a couple of national trends among America’s youth: the decline in time outdoors in favor of electronic devices and the faltering interest in sport hunting.
Jegeris, the17-year-old son of Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris, seems to have been born with a natural affinity for the gun sport.
“It is by far my greatest passion,” Karson Jegeris says. “That’s what makes me who I am, really. It’s how I choose my friends. It’s how I spend my weekends.”
Most of the time, he spends them with his good friend Eveneau. They got to be pals when they played soccer together as 5-year-olds and started hunting together after they completed state hunter eduction-safety classes as sixth-graders.
“We started with squirrels and rabbits with .22s, but worked our way up to shotgun hunting and rifle hunting and bow hunting,” Karson says. “I’ve gotten one deer with my bow so far. And it’s a whole different type of hunting world.”
It’s one that he was driven to explore from a very young age, according to his dad.
“I wasn’t a hunter and suddenly I had a 9-year-old who was crazy about hunting,” Karl Jegeris says. “We’d get the Cabela’s magazine in the mail and he would take it for two hours and read it from cover to cover.”
Karson and Eveneau still study magazine stories and online videos for ways to improve as hunters and properly process and cook wild game.
“Nothing ever goes to waste,” Eveneau says. “I’m still making deer jerky right now. I also cooked up the heart of my first buck. It was good.”
They butcher big game in the Jegeris family garage which is set up with a pulley system. And they make plenty of jerky, which is popular with family and friends. But they also try more regular recipes for the game.
“My mom, thankfully, is a good cook,” Karson says.
Eveneau and Karson agree that hunting rituals matter as much as pulling the trigger, and that it’s especially important to show respect for the game being hunted and killed.
“I’ve hunted deer, turkeys, geese, pheasants, ducks, doves rabbits, squirrels and grouse,” Eveneau says. “I like it all.”
They’ve recently started antelope hunting. And they’re applying for hard-to-get elk licenses in South Dakota, a process that can take years.
“I’m putting in every single year,” Karson says. “I’m also starting to think about elk hunting in Montana or Wyoming,” where elk licenses are typically easier to get.
They also got a serious taste of prairie-dog hunting, thanks to a $500 hunting package on a ranch in the badlands south of Kadoka that Karl purchased at a Post 22 fundraiser.
“The auctioneer opened at $500 and my wife about choked when I bid on it,” he said. “And I thought it was a great deal. We had a blast in the badlands.”
Such blasts are better when shared with a buddy, Karl Jegeris says.
“They have known each other ever since Eveneau came to the United States,” Karl says. “They’ve been best buddies since early childhood. Somehow that hunting passion sparked in both of them. That passions has kept them connected through the years.”
Eveneau and his sister, Angeline, were just 6 and 5 when they were adopted and brought from Haiti to their new home in Rapid City by Dan and Molly Rasby. Both kids lourished in organized sports, but Eveneau surprised his non-hunting parents with his passion for hunting.
“He claims he could feed our family,” Molly says. “And I think he probably could.”
Molly knows that guns and wild places pose risks, but she keeps them in perspective.
“With all the drugging and drinking, I think hunting is a really nice alternative to the party scene,” she said.
Speaking from a wealth of professional experience, Karl Jegeris agrees: “Our philosophy is it’s a lot better than many kinds or urban risks.”
It’s a pretty good way to carry on an important outdoor tradition, too.