Letter Re: Learn to Hunt Through Outreach Programs

Thursday, Nov 8, 2012

SurvivalBlog articles have thoroughly covered just about every conceivable angle to the concepts and theories to preparing for TEOTWAWKI situations, from theory to specific skills covering everything from farming to firearms procurement, security, food preparation and storage, water sanitation, just to name a few.  I spent some time contemplating whether or not I personally had anything of value to add, and came across a few articles from the perspective of women who were doing their best to prepare despite numerous setbacks.  They might be divorcees, raising children by themselves, with limited financial means, for example. Or perhaps they had very limited experience with firearms but were determined to learn how to shoot, to acquire a conceal carry permit, and take every step possible to give their family every chance to survive.  I was encouraged to note that many women had taken great strides and were not wilting daisies waiting for some man to help them—a valuable attitude that is true to the spirit of our American "settler stock".

But I had to acknowledge that many people, and especially some women, are clearly at a disadvantage.  It is a sad but true fact that many girls were not taught to shoot and hunt as children, even while their male siblings were encouraged to do so by their fathers.  And statistics today prove that the numbers of hunters is dwindling, so we are potentially losing a valuable skill set.  Sadly, many families have no one who hunts to pass down the skills.

And it is quite clear that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, hunting skills could make the difference between life and death.  I was one of those people whose parents hunted but they never taught me to hunt, so I had to learn on my own.  I then taught a friend to hunt, and he became so fascinated he volunteered with a local division of wildlife outreach program to teach women and youths to hunt.  Soon, I too was volunteering and working alongside other extremely experienced and talented hunters, which was a fantastic opportunity for me to help share what I had learned while also learning from more skilled hunters.
I therefore wanted to share some information to encourage individuals who would like to learn to hunt, but don’t know where to start.  Really, there are very few obstacles to getting started, as I will explain.

First, it is incredibly important to clarify that merely owning a rifle and being able to hit a target at a range is simply not enough to become a successful hunter when the need arises.  There is a reason it is called "hunting" and not "killing"! No matter how much every hunter wishes it was otherwise, God's creatures do not simply wander out and make themselves easy targets.  They have evolved over millions of years to avoid being an easy meal, and any experience hunter will attest to this fact and will have dozens of stories to share about failed hunts.  Target shooting is a prerequisite starting point for anyone wishing to learn to hunt, but after that, there are many skills to be acquired, and it should be done in a safe and educational manner. 
Fortunately, there is a growing number of places to turn.  This will of course vary from state to state, so each interested party should research opportunities in his own state.

Colorado Division of Wildlife
: The state of Colorado is a national leader in hunting outreach and the state Division of Parks and Wildlife has developed a hunter outreach program for women and youths that is one of the most amazing programs you'll ever see.  To start with, a prospective hunter in Colorado must have his or her hunter safety certification.  This can be done very cheaply (generally $10 per participant, and at times, for free) by attending Division of Wildlife (DOW) programs.  Colorado provides courses quite frequently around the state, and the schedules are easy to find on the DOW web site.

Once the hunter has a hunter safety card, a parent can enroll a youth in Big Game (elk, deer, pronghorn antelope), Upland Game (pheasant, grouse, chukar) or Waterfowl  hunts.  The DOW then provides expert Hunt Master guides to organize the hunt.  A parent must attend, and this provides a perfect opportunity for inexperienced parents to get an education right alongside the youths.

They also provide Outreach specific to women as well, under the same conditions.  I would like to assure you that the men I saw on the outreach programs were all gentlemen, well behaved, clean spoken, and very respectable. 

Now, in anticipation for those readers who will groan and say “Sounds great, but I’m not a Colorado resident”, do not despair.  Other states may also have analogous programs.  Here are a few links. [You can find many others with web searches.]

Texas BOW program
: Texas, for example, has a Woman’s hunting clinic they call “Becoming an Outdoors-woman” (BOW).

Pheasants Forever
: Additionally, there are non-profit organizations nation-wide that also provide instruction.  One of the best is Pheasants Forever.  Don’t let the name confuse you; while Pheasants Forever does teach how to hunt pheasants, they don’t limit themselves to these hunts.  They teach various hunting and fishing skills, archery, and even canoeing.  I participated on a couple of Pheasants Forever outreach hunts for women and youths and they are top-notch, very supportive and encouraging, and they can even supply a shotgun if the prospective hunter does not yet own one but would like to try the sport before investing in expensive equipment.  What’s more, depending on the program, they can also provide training shooting clays at a trap range before heading afield.

The National Wild Turkey Foundation
is another organization that provides hunter outreach to youths, and they also have “Women in the Outdoors” programs.
As one would expect, the NRA also has programs to introduce women to shooting sports and hunting.  They also provide training to become an NRA certified instructor, a survival skill that could be very useful.  For youths, they provide the “Youth Hunter Education Championship”, which they describe as a “graduate studies” program for outdoor skills and safety training for young hunters.

Now that you are aware that there are lots of opportunities out there, I hope you feel empowered to find an outreach program in your area or within traveling distance.  Hunting skills are not only important in the SHTF situation, but are also a great way to spend quality time with the family away from computer games, television, and all the other electronic accoutrements that distract us from what is really important: quality family time and acquiring new, and useful skills.

Good luck, and safe hunting! - Patriot Refusenik

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