The Ohio Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers just wrapped up an exciting Learn to Hunt event. With over 20 total people involved over the course of three different days, we could make this post quite lengthy. We could talk about what we did good, talk about what we could improve. Rehearse quotes from participants new to hunting, describe in lengthy prose the details of the hunt.
We are keeping this simple because of the following statistically-proven fact:
Adult non-hunters are highly unlikely to become hunters on their own. Without active recruitment and mentoring by experienced outdoorsmen and women, hunter numbers will continue to dwindle, thereby reducing available conservation funding for state land and wildlife management agencies.
Our mentee and mentor hunters went afield for the dove opener, all toting the quintessential 5-gallon bucket full of shotshells, decoys, snacks, and ice. More important than everyone successfully connecting on at least a dove or two — no small feat in and of itself — was safety. As a mentor in one of the fields, I was proud to see our range and safety training days pay off with nary a concerning incident. Conscientious firearm control was excellent, folks were respectful of one another’s firing zones, and doves were equitably shared among all the participants. A quick field dressing lesson ensured that everyone left with knowledge of how to breast out their doves, and many of the in-field conversations revolved around dove recipes, where to find more dove hunting opportunities on public lands, and how to ramp up involvement with fellow BHAers. The bottom line is we shared experience, gear, authentic protein, time, energy, and memories and shared those elements in community. This is what makes an early season dove field such a fantastic introduction to hunting: the community aspect of the hunt.
While the statement “adult non-hunters are highly unlikely to become hunters on their own” is true, the following statement is equally true “without an active community of hunters, new adult hunters are unlikely to remain hunters for very long.” Join our community! If you’ve angled or hunted for decades, get involved — we need more of the old guard. If you’re brand new to hunting, join us — we would be honored to walk alongside and assist you on your journey.
A huge thanks to our R3 committee – Jayson DiGangi and Jordan Phillips and Eric Seigley – for making this event a success. Also to Big Walnut Conservation Club for opening up their range for two practice days and the Ohio Division of Wildlife for providing gear and a location to hunt.