Covington, GA– Students at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) tried their hand at squirrel hunting through Academics Afield. Davis Simons, the ABAC Student Coordinator, and his mentors took students with limited to no hunting experience to Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area in search of the elusive public land critter. They looked high and low but to no avail.
Some might say they struck out — leaving without something for the table is all too common in hunting. On the other hand, that is why they call the activity hunting — because there is more to it than just the final product. It is about the search, the effort expended, and the perspectives gained. Frequently one solidifies bonds with friends, family, and nature. Often one experiences the magic of a sunrise. Only sometimes does one accomplish the task set out to do in the first place.
Academics Afield students put forth a lot of effort when preparing for their hunts. They develop the knowledge necessary to be an ethical and responsible hunter. Students learn how unregulated market hunting in the 1800s led to dramatic losses in wildlife numbers, and how hunters self-taxed their equipment to generate funding to restore the populations. This encourages a recognition of our hunting heritage and encourages an understanding of the fragility of the system. ABAC Academics Afield students also learn about squirrel biology and behavior. This guides their hunting strategies and techniques. Finally, they increase their familiarity with firearms and practice their shot placement. Coordinators reinforce safe behaviors on and off the range. Students develop practical skills using a firearm and often overcome preexisting hesitations they may have had regarding guns.
The weight of conservation history and an appreciation for the species accompanies an Academics Afield hunter as he or she enters the field. Mentors and students walk the woods together. They read the ground looking for signs of squirrel foraging behavior. They keep their ears on high alert for alarm calls. Even armed with strategies and knowledge, the squirrels eluded the Academic Afield hunters. Some may say they struck out, but did they really?
The Georgia R3 Initiative is a cooperative effort between Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Deer Association, and Safari Club International
Georgia R3 Initiative: https://gwf.org/r3/
Press Release (.pdf): https://gwf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/ABACSquirrelHunt2021.pdf
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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.