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Beginning Hunters: Starting Out on the Road to Success

Wildlife and the Outdoors

 

Beginning Hunters: Starting Out on the Road to Success

 

Stuart R. Goldsby, Regional Hunter Education Coordinator

 

            It is important that beginning hunters have positive experiences to begin their travels on the road to hunting success. All beginning hunters have two things in common, an innate desire to hunt and a lack of knowledge. The former is all that is needed for someone to learn the skills of a lifetime. The latter is easily corrected with time and a knowledgeable mentor. A mentor is usually a member of the family such as a parent or grandparent, but can be a friend or neighbor. A mentor is crucial to the success of recruitment and retention of beginning hunters. Since all humans have some genetic trait to hunt there is really nothing to work on except the desire. Lack of knowledge is the largest barrier to modern hunting and it must be overcome by beginning hunters of all ages.

            Younger beginning hunters typically need to go along with an adult for a few seasons to be shown how to hunt. Through repetition and without the pressures of having to harvest an animal, they mature and better understand that success as a hunter doesn’t mean you must always harvest an animal. They may not immediately grasp the ideas of wildlife management or predator/prey relationships, but with time in the field, they will learn. Younger beginners also learn the virtue of patience while trying to interact with natural resources.

            Mature beginners are more difficult to start out in the field due to time constraints, predispositions, or attitudes. Starting out in a hunter education class before going into the field is an excellent way for older beginners to grasp the ideals behind firearms safety and proper hunting ethic. Common questions students may have will be answered prior to being in an actual situation. Ladies shouldn’t be discouraged by what used to be considered a man’s world. The Department offers STEP OUTSIDE® programs for ladies to learn and interact with each other without intimidation or embarrassment. The Department also sponsors the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program (B.O.W.) which is a three-day adventure workshop that offers beginner-level skills training for an array of activities including deer hunting.

            Actual hunting opportunities provide invaluable learning experiences. Time in the field spent hunting is essential for young and old beginning hunters alike. In Alabama, whitetail deer hunting is the most popular type of hunting, but it may not be well suited for introducing youngsters to hunting. The solitude style of stand or still hunting does not lend itself to interaction between mentor and student. Small game hunting has everything desired in teaching a beginner the ropes. Typically, in small game hunting interaction between hunting partners is common. Laughing and talking while learning is allowed. Through these experiences the student learns with interest and graduates to another level of hunting as he or she feels comfortable. For young beginners, participating in the Department sponsored youth dove hunts is an excellent way to learn.

            As the comfort level increases, and time passes, the beginner becomes a seasoned hunter. Soon the seasoned hunter looks down the road he traveled and the successes enjoyed. They earn the opportunity to become a mentor and begin to hand down those successes to the next generation of beginning hunters.

 


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