Twelve new and inexperienced hunters recently completed a 5-session program hosted by the Idaho chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. The diverse group of men and women ranged in age from 25-50. A few participants had recently moved to Idaho from more urban areas and had very little previous experience with outdoor recreation. Conversely, a few participants were avid backpackers and boaters but were just starting to hunt. One gentlemen in his 30's had even lived completely "off the grid" for over 5 years in a remote part of northern California. Regardless of background, the participants expressed that this was a great way to speed up their learning process about hunting and build their confidence before going afield.
The program was comprised of 5 sessions, mixing classroom and field work. The primary focus of the program was on big game hunting. Activities and lessons included identifying informational resources, selecting the right hunting equipment, scouting for a hunting area, sighting in rifles, how to use your optics, game processing and butchering.
Session 1 (classroom): Discussion of agencies, maps, technology and other resources new hunters can utilize to help prepare for a hunt, discussion of gear options for a big game hunt, hunting ethics issues.
Session 2 (field): Hike through elk, deer, pronghorn habitat to discuss topics such as feed, tracking, bedding, wind, tactics and more. Wildlife and habitat biologists will be present to discuss forage and how seasonal changes affect deer and elk location and diet.
Session 3 (classroom): Gun education, including discussions on ballistics, types of guns, scopes, and accessories
Session 4 (field): Hands on shooting range training day with instruction.
Session 5 (field & classroom): Hands-on field dressing, butchering, preparing and cooking wild game. Idaho BHA worked with Idaho Fish & Game to legally acquire 2 deer and 1 elk that had recently died and were held in cold storage for use in the hands-on session. Participants could each bring up to 2 guests to this session.
Idaho BHA hopes that this clinic will help develop life-long connections and interests in conservation, wildlife and the protection of public lands. Instructors are knowledgeable sportsmen and women from around the state, all of whom volunteered their time to participate. Participants must have completed Hunter’s Education or be in the process of doing so.
Now that the entire program is complete, these twelve people will be eligible to be paired with a volunteer mentor for a hunt in October or November. One participant has already filled a pronghorn and elk tag!
There was a $65 suggested donation, which covered course materials and includes a BHA annual membership. Participants received complimentary subscriptions to onXmaps, discounts at First Lite and Argali Outdoors, and they were able to take home substantial portions of wild game meat from the final session. Guns and ammo for the range day were provided by Idaho BHA.
If you would like to see Idaho BHA hold a similar program in your area, please email firstname.lastname@example.org