The 2023-2024 Academics Afield program started with a bang this past week. Several students from Fort Valley State University joined a few faculty members for a weekend of fun. Friday was spent at the Ocmulgee River Gun Club where club members taught the students to shoot at clay targets.

Encouragement, determination, and instruction are three words that sum up the experience. While some of the students were on the field practicing, the remaining students watched their peers, cheering when they struck their targets. One student who was having difficulty connecting with the clays kept trying, changing tactics, and staying focused until he finally broke a clay midflight. The club members provided positive feedback and constructive criticism to each individual student guiding them along their journey to success. By the end of the day, there were 3 shining stars that knocked this training out of the park. Clays were broken left and right as the students tracked them with their newly achieved skills.

Saturday was the day of the hunt and while things didn’t go as planned, it was a great time for all. While the dove field was in great condition, it was located a little bit away from the city and many individuals lost cell reception and GPS capabilities, causing a delay in arrival. Once everyone made it to the hunting location, we split up in small groups to head into the field. Matthew Cooper from GA DNR and Ben Grizzle from Quail Forever acted as mentors for the students.

A storm crept in slowly and cast a shadow on the day. The doves stopped flying and lightning caused us to call the hunt quits for the safety of all involved. No one let that ruin the day. We snacked, chatted, and made plans to do more in the future. An avid hunter even offered to harvest dove to show a demonstration to the student participants at a later time. Overall, the kick-off for this hunting season was a success.

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.

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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.

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