Charles Alsheimer, outdoors communicator, hopes to encourage people to enjoy nature a little more when he speaks at the Altoona Alliance Church's wild game feast.
The event will be held at 5 p.m. March 15 at the church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd.
The buffet will feature a variety of game, including bear, wild boar, elk, moose, pheasant, rabbit and white-tailed deer choices, said Jamie Harclerode Glunt, coordinator for the meal.
"We will also have a mystery meat for guests to taste," Glunt said. "The person who guesses the mystery meat correctly will win a prize."
Hunters from the church and their friends donate the wild game from a day in the woods or longer expeditions. Volunteers from the church prepare it.
For guests who do not wish to satisfy their taste buds with flavors from the wilderness, turkey from the supermarket is being prepared. Side dishes, homemade desserts, soda and coffee will complete the meal.
If you go
Who: Charles Alsheimer,
What: Wild game feast
When: 5 p.m. March 15, doors open at 4 p.m.
Where: Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd.
Cost: $7 for ages 10 and older
For tickets: Call 944-0171 or visit the church weekdays
Guest speaker Alsheimer, who lives in Avoca, N.Y., has been working in fields and forests for more than 30 years, often capturing wildlife in photographs or writing articles about them for magazines.
His portfolio features all sorts of creatures. "From chickadees to grizzlies," he said.
And while he has traveled throughout the United States, photographing animals such as bighorn sheep, elk and moose, he is best known for his knowledge of white-tailed deer.
Alsheimer, a regular contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, will present a multi-media program, "Whitetails: a Photographic Journey Through the Seasons."
"It tracks the whitetail through every month of the year," Alsheimer said. "It's about what goes on in a whitetail's life."
As a bonus, he will provide information on a research project - lunar rut predictions or how a light source has an effect on when a deer ruts.
"There has been great interest in it for the last 16 years, said Alsheimer, who has a deer reserve on his farm where he does research on the animal's behavior and nutritional needs.
He said findings have been published in Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, which has the rights to them, and on "Deer and Deer Hunting TV" on the NBC Sports Network.
"I am a contributing host to that program," he said.
Alsheimer said he hopes that his presentation gives attendees a deeper appreciation for nature.
"Today's American families are so stressed," he said. "Mom goes to work, Dad goes to work, and we live in a technological world of sound bytes."
He said parents are running to their children's soccer matches, school plays and parent-teacher conferences.
"America's parents are frazzled," he said. "They don't have time to stop and smell the roses or take time to visit Ricketts Glen State Park."
In conjunction with the importance of enjoying nature, Alsheimer will talk about his faith.
"God made an incredible world," he said. "A nature photographer really sees that. God's creation is phenomenal."
Alsheimer explained that his faith goes deeper than observation, but it was not always that way.
He said that although he knew there was a God, he was not brought up "in a church family, but a good family."
While serving in Vietnam, he said he saw "how fragile life is" and began to look at his spiritual life and made changes.
"We are all created with a void in our heart," Alsheimer said. He said people can choose to fill that void themselves or fill it with what God offers in his son, Jesus Christ.
"I am not religious," he said. "I am a Christian who has a relationship with Jesus."
Alsheimer, who also is chairman of the board for Family Life Network, based in Bath, N.Y., said he wants others to understand how great a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can be.
The Rev. Tim McGarvey, senior pastor at Altoona Alliance, said this will be the ninth wild game feast the church has hosted.
McGarvey said the event seems to grow in popularity despite a five-year hiatus. About 100 people attended the first event held at Lakemont Fire Hall in the late 1990s and about 450 guests attended last year.
It will be the second wild game feast in the church's new building. Fewer tickets will be sold this year so the dining space is not as congested, he said.
He emphasized that the event is not a fundraiser but an opportunity to share God's love and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Alsheimer is an excellent speaker," he said, adding that he heard the outdoorsman give a talk years ago when he was pastor at another church.
Guests will have an opportunity to speak with Alsheimer, who will have books on whitetails, calendars, posters and postcards featuring deer and other wildlife available for sale.
The church will be giving away door prizes that include a crossbow, .22-caliber rifle and a fly rod.