The Utah Chapter would like to thank the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and especially Rachael Tuckett, for their support of the Hunting for Sustainability Program. Without the resources they provided, the program wouldn’t have been possible.
In August, the Utah chapter wrapped up our first Hunting for Sustainability program, in collaboration with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Twelve students participated in the 5-workshop series, which was focused on teaching new hunters the basics of big game hunting. Over the course of the program, students were taught the foundational skills to be responsible stewards of wildlife and more successful in the field.
The 12 students were drawn to hunting for a variety of reasons: spending more time with friends and family, harvesting their own meat, or learning a new way to enjoy the outdoors. However, they all faced the same challenge: the lack of a mentor. Over the years the Utah chapter has heard from dozens of prospective hunters, asking for advice on how to get started. Not having a mentor was one of the main obstacles we heard about and an opportunity for us to make a difference. The Hunting for Sustainability Program was a great way to provide some these new hunters with the confidence to get started.
Every Thursday for five weeks, participants met with BHA volunteers and members of the UTAH DWR for presentations and hands on workshops. The sessions took place in a classroom, in the field and at the shooting range to maximize learning. To begin participants were given an overview of hunting ethics, conservation, and the gear necessary to be safe in the field. For the next session we visited the Honeyville WMA, where a wildlife biologist with the Utah DWR, spoke in depth about elk and deer behavior. Afterwards students learned about blood trailing and practiced their new skills with a simulated blood trail. The next week, game wardens presented about Utah hunting regulations and how to avoid the most common violations.
The last two weeks are when participants had the opportunity to hone their skills. At the Lee Kay shooting range, BHA volunteers taught participants how to utilize backpacks and shooting sticks to be more stable in field shootings positions. Students were able to try a variety of positions and supports, and everyone saw an improvement in their accuracy by the end of the session. For the last workshop, the DWR provided a recently harvested mule deer. BHA volunteers led the students to through entire butchering process and everyone was given a chance to practice their knifework. While the butchering session took place, volunteers grilled venison burgers and steaks for everyone to try. The student’s feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with most citing the range day or the butchering session as the most informative.
BHA and the DWR plan to provide the workshops annually. If you or someone you know is interested in participating please email us at [email protected].