BASS Times: Best laid schemes o' mice and men

ST. CHARLES, Mo.— Gary Morrison is always looking for different things for his club to do throughout the year.

The St. Charles County Hawg Hunters Bass Club president definitely found a different way for his club to raise funds more than three years ago when fellow club member Ed Spilker approached him with an idea.

"We were having a lot of problems with open tournaments because there was so much competition that we couldn't draw boats," recalled Morrison. Spilker thought a fundraiser that was a hit with his Lions Club could also work for the bass club, so he suggested the Federation Nation chapter should try mouse races.

The idea became a big hit with the club as the Hawg Hunters have held mouse races for the last three years to raise funds. "What I really like about it is all my members have a good time and they all like working it," said Morrison, who estimates about 50 of the club's 75 members work the event.

The event is held in February as the club's end-of-the-year party. "It's better to have it in the wintertime when nothing else is going on and everybody is bored," said Morrison. The special event usually draws an attendance of 180 to 190 including club members and their families. The club employs Gateway Downs Mouse Racing to run the fundraiser. Gateway Downs provides mouse racing for nonprofit organizations throughout the St. Louis area by setting up a racing track, television monitors, a mouse roulette wheel and a computer system that figures and displays odds on each race. It also supplies 36 mice for the races.

"We have seven races, six mice per race, and we even sell the mice," said Morrison. "We will sell a mouse for $10 and the buyers can name them whatever they want to. We also sell chances on the roulette wheel that has 50 slots on it. The dealer spins the wheel and sets a mouse in a can down on the wheel and whichever slot the mouse goes into is the winner."

Race attendees give donations in exchange for fake dollars. "We are not allowed to deal with cash, so the mouse guy brings in funny money," said Morrison. "People will buy funny money so they can bet with and win more funny money. It's all just for fun."

Proceeds from the event help fund various club activities such as a kids tournament, husband-and-wife tournament, a MegaBucks-style event and dinners at the club's various tournaments. The club was unable to schedule a tournament for kids this year because of the flooding and inclement weather in Missouri, so instead the Hawg Hunters donated $500 to the Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Junior Bassmasters program.

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