TOWNSEND -- Bill Biswanger has been a member of the Townsend Rod and Gun Club for about 30 years. He still remembers the first day he decided to join the club after meeting one of the founding members, Aubrey Wornham, at a picnic.

"He asked me if I liked to fish and hunt (and that) he would sponsor me to join the club. I told him I did, so I joined," said Biswanger.

The Townsend Rod and Gun Club has been a private club for hunting and fishing for 75 years. The club currently attracts some 400 members from northern Massachusetts, parts of New Hampshire and greater Boston.

Since its initiation in 1939 on Flat Pond, the club's holdings have grown from 35 acres to 300 acres of land used for archery, shooting ranges, camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities.

A retired member, Bill Wilkinson, smiles as he mentions Wornham, now deceased.

"I think it was important for Aubrey to make sure there was a place where people could come and do these activities with like-minded people," said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson is no longer a member but he said the club holds a lot of great memories for him. He still visits once in a while when his friends invite him.

"Aubrey would be thrilled to see how much the club has grown," he said. Wornham was well known for having a much frequented gun shop adjacent to his home on Highland Street.

Members trickle in and out of the club all day. There is no set schedule for use, they just have to drive to Dann Colburn Way and press the secret member code to lift the gate.


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Another very active member of the club, Ken Gerken, said it's been so long he doesn't even remember how many years he has been part of the club. Even though he does not come out often to take part in sports, he is involved whenever he is needed.

Gerken remembers bringing his sons to the shooting range and building duck houses for the birds in the winter.

"It's about the friendship," he said. "I have made many close friends here."

There are a lot of perks to joining the club, according to Gerken. He gets to chop wood for his fireplace and pick up sand from the club's land for his driveway in the winter.

Gerken is a life member, which means that he does not pay a membership fee. If members are over the age of 65 and have been active over 10 years, they are allowed to be life members.

The Townsend Rod and Gun Club hosts events all year for members and nonmembers. On Saturday, Aug. 23, the club will hold its 75th anniversary celebration from noon to 6 p.m.

Barbecue company Smokin' Hogzz will be providing the food and the Tore Down House band will bring the entertainment. The event is free for members and $10 for nonmembers.

For information visit townsend-rod-and-gun-club.org.

Follow Kelly Carrion on Twitter and Tout @KellyCarrion12.