While becoming a hunter, a person may be faced with many obstacles that could deter them from continuing. For example, not harvesting can discourage a beginner from going out in the field again. For our Academics Afield Statesboro students in the 2023-2024 cohort we have had 2 outings that could discourage a new hunter, but the spirit of the participants cannot be hindered. During the dove hunt earlier in the year, the students were unable to harvest a bird because doves were not present in the field. When deer season came along, the students rallied back up and learned how to shoot at stationary targets in preparation for the upcoming hunt. The firearm training was a success, with the students having confidence in their target shooting.
As the event date closer, everything seemed to line up. The students participated in the education night to discuss deer biology, hunting strategy, and scouting tactics, the weather was pleasant, and the location was scouted. The week of the event the forecast for the weather changed; it was now calling for cold and rainy weather all day. Sure enough, the day of the hunt, the students gathered at 5:00 am ready to go into the woods only to be met with cold weather and steady rain. While this might have discouraged others from entering the woods, our group pushed through. We broke off into groups and went to our hunting locations. The area of the WMA we hunted was empty except for the cars of the student participants.
The rain continued for a few hours and due to the rain, cold, and lack of deer movement, we called it a day. Did this bring down the group? No. Instead, one of the mentors took the students around and showed them signs of deer in the area. Then two of the students discussed meeting up another time to try again at a new location. They all enjoyed snacks and drinks while laughing about the turn of events. Even though the students haven’t been able to harvest yet, they are still seeking more activities within the program and with other participants and keeping a positive outlook.
The good news is that there is another opportunity. As the students have heard a few times now, there is a reason it is called hunting. Each outing is an opportunity for the students to learn new skills and become more comfortable with scouting the land.
As we wrapped up the events for this school year, Nate Huston, a Statesboro Academics Afield student, shared his thoughts on the experience so far. “Academics Afield has been an amazing opportunity for me to learn not only how to hunt but the importance and practice of hunting the correct way. It has brought me from the point of having no knowledge of how to be a responsible hunter to a level that I feel I can safely and successfully hunt independently.”
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 Federation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, National 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: gwf.org/academicsafield
Georgia R3 Initiative: https://gwf.org/r3/
Download the .pdf: https://gwf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/AAStatesboroOct2023.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.