By Marisa Futral, Hunter Education Coordinator, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
More and more children and adults participate in indoor entertainment in today’s technology-driven world. Wildlife and natural resource professionals are doing their best to get more people interested in hunting, fishing and shooting sports through outdoor programs and events. It is also important for hunters and anglers to do their part. Alabama has a wide variety of hunting seasons. This year, consider inviting someone who has never hunted to go with you.
Hunting is not a gender- or age-specific activity, and it can be enjoyed by everyone. There is so much to share with a new hunter. Most hunters are familiar with that time in the woods when it’s quiet and nothing seems to be moving. That quietness is a unique experience; this would be the perfect time to teach your new hunter about identifying trees, wildlife, animal tracks or survival skills. To a new hunter, when the woods come alive with movement, a squirrel can sound like an elephant running through the woods! Even something as small as a moth fluttering around will get the blood pumping in a first-time hunter. Some of the things an avid hunter may take for granted, such as the quietness or the awakening of the woods, is a special treat to someone on their first hunt.
Don’t limit your invitations to just family or friends; take a co-worker or a neighbor with you. As with trying anything new, people who have never been hunting, fishing or shooting are not sure if they will like it, and may not take the time to find out unless invited by someone. Some may only need an invitation to spark their interest, while others would prefer the guidance of someone experienced.
The highly social aspect of dove hunting makes it a great way to introduce youth or any first-time hunter to Alabama’s great outdoors. Anyone who has ever been dove hunting knows how much fun and entertaining it is. There is a lot of interaction and camaraderie with other hunters. The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) sponsors dove hunts throughout the state for adults and a youth participant to spend quality time together enjoying Alabama’s great outdoors. Check outdooralabama.com in late summer for the announcement about youth dove hunts.
If you are someone who is interested in hunting, or any activity outdoors, don’t wait for someone to ask – make the first move and ask someone to take you. Most of your friends or relatives who hunt would be happy to take you; they probably just don't know that you would like to go. If you don’t know anyone who hunts, there are several outdoor organizations that take people on first-time hunts. With a little research, you can be well on your way to learning a new activity.
Take the time and effort to get someone new interested in what Alabama’s great outdoors has to offer. You may not turn all new students into an avid hunters, but I bet you can turn them into outdoor enthusiasts.