Statesboro students recently went out on their third hunting trip in their Academics Afield programming. The 2023-2024 SY cohort, funded by the Georgia State Chapter of NWTF, had two previous hunts where the intended game species was not successfully harvested. During the dove hunt, the birds weren’t flying, and during the deer hunt the rain kept the deer away. Despite not harvesting anything on the previous outings, the spirits were still high for the small game outing. Plus, this time the students would work in tandem with hunting dogs.

As is tradition with the Academics Afield workshop, the students first practiced for hunting rabbit at a local gun club, Baygall Sporting Clays. The students were knocking it out the park at practice hitting bouncing clay after bouncing clay. We were ready for the hunt. Charlie Todd, with The Westervelt Company, helped to organize the hunt, allowing the students to access their land. He also coordinated with the dog handlers, Stan Weaver and Brett Reddick, who happily brought their dogs out to help locate the rabbits. We are very thankful for Charlie, Stan, and Brett for making this opportunity happen for the students.

When we arrived at the location, we were joined by two volunteers, Baylee Palmer (NWTF) and Owen Jenkins (GADNR). We reviewed the plan, met the dogs, and go in position. At first the woods were silent, as the dogs were set to work trying to locate the rabbit. Then a chorus of barks and yips signaled to everyone that they were on the trail of something good. My group walked and waited, anticipation running high. We went to talk to another group and out popped a rabbit. One student raised his firearm, took a breath, and shot. 

Dirt went flying and the rabbit continued to run. One quick turn and it was back in the woods with the dogs hot on its tail. The dogs led the rabbit to another group and a shot was fired. Another miss. Finally, a rabbit came out near Madeline English and the hunt became a success. 

Since this was my first time harvesting something from hunting, the adrenaline was very high; my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest since I was very excited to get my first kill. The first rabbit I saw. I took the shot and missed, then the second one I saw I was more prepared for, so I took a few deep breaths when my mentor said to get ready; as the barking of the dogs was getting closer, I saw it run across the road aimed, and got it. I was thinking beforehand I was definitely going to miss it, but I saw it drop and was so shocked because when we were doing target practice, you knew where the target was coming from when you are out hunting; you have no control over where the rabbit comes from. I am very thankful that my school has programs like this” said Madeline English about the experience.

At the end of the day, every student saw rabbit and were able to take a shot. A few of them worked together with Owen Jenkins to field dress the harvested rabbit while another one manned the grill and made delicious venison burgers for the group.

It was a great end to the series of hunting workshops. One more event is scheduled for this cohort to provide another chance to train with firearms before the semester ends. These students now have a new sense of confidence in hunting and will hopefully continue their hunting journey after completing the Academics Afield program. 

The students in Academics Afield at Statesboro and the GA R3 community are grateful to NWTF GA and its members for their support in fostering the growth of new participants in shooting, hunting, and conservation.

The Georgia R3 Initiative is a cooperative effort between Georgia Wildlife FederationGeorgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources DivisionNational Wild Turkey Federation, the Georgia Chapter of Safari Club International, and Ducks Unlimited.

Academics Afield is supported by a grant (#F22AP00937) from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Academics Afield in Statesboro (2023-2024 SY) is funded by the GA Chapter of the NWTF.




Academics Afield: 
Georgia R3 Initiative:
Download the .pdf:

# # #

About Georgia Wildlife Federation
Georgia Wildlife Federation was founded as a sportsman’s organization in 1936 and is Georgia’s oldest conservation organization. Today, members include hunters, anglers, bird watchers, hikers, educators, and all Georgians who are interested in preserving our natural resources and outdoor heritage.

Pin It on Pinterest