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Dutchmen enjoy long hunting trip

February 14, 1999

By Ken Gordon, Dispatch Sports Reporter

DELAWARE, Ohio -- They made a strange pair -- the grizzled professional hunter and the fresh-faced teen-ager. What was even stranger was how far Gerry Volgers and Jacob Pol traveled to participate in the Great Ohio Rabbit Hunt last month at Delaware State Park.

Try 4,000 miles.

Volgers and Pol are from the Netherlands, and their devotion to the cause made them celebrities in camp.

"We were all kind of dumbfounded, thrilled and flattered they showed up," said Dean Torges of Ostrander, Ohio, who organized the event.

Volgers shrugged off the long trip.

"It sounded like great fun, and these were friends I'd been talking with on the Internet for a year," he said.

Volgers spent seven years employed as a hunter by the New Zealand government to control animal populations on rangeland. He culled mostly deer, with an occasional assignment for pigs or sheep.

He then returned to the Netherlands, where he lives on an island 4 miles wide and 20 miles long with a population of 5,000. Pol lives there, too.

Not only is hunting illegal in the Netherlands, but so is keeping weapons in your home.

So Volgers founded an archery club that now boasts 28 members. Pol, 18, began shooting just two months ago. It was Pol's first time in the United States. His reaction might be expected from someone who has lived his entire life on a cramped island.

"People have such big gardens," he said, self-conscious of his limited English. "Back home, (the gardens) are like 2 by 2 (feet)."

Volgers was impressed with Americans' friendliness, such as how readily several Delaware County landowners granted permission to hunt on their land.

He also was thrilled to be given three new bows, which he planned to take back to his club and give to three new archers.

"This was fantastic; the guys made me feel welcome,'' Volgers said. "We're all soul mates, of course."