Today’s hunting community focuses a spotlight on recruiting new hunters, retaining existing hunters and reactivating those who have lapsed from being active hunters. The programs and efforts are commonly referred to as “R3” and are embraced by conservation groups, sportsman’s clubs, hunting organizations like the NRA, NSSF and USSA and both federal and state wildlife management agencies.
In Georgia, new hunters are being introduced to hunting through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Division’s (WRD) “Hunt and Learn” Program. The program consists of R3 workshops that provide an educational weekend for beginners, providing “exceptional instruction from qualified teachers” for children ages 10-17, accompanied by an adult. The weekend embraces all aspects of hunting from the very basics to offering time on the shooting range and provides an actual guided hunting experience and teaches new young hunters how to care for harvested game.
“Like other agencies and organizations concerned about the future of hunting, we perceived a need to match new and lapsed hunters with mentors to help provide the knowledge and expertise that would encourage and enable interested people to go hunting,” said Walter Lane, Georgia DNR Hunter Development Program Manager. “It’s part of our advanced hunter education program and the bigger, nationwide Recruit, Retain and Reactivate (R3) campaign taking place nationwide.
Participation requires completion of a hunter education course and a current hunting license. The program covers all available wild game species in Georgia and has expanded to include three levels of instruction: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
The instructional workshop portions of the program are handled by DNR staff but almost all of the hunting opportunities are provided by volunteers. Lane indicated, “The Hunt and Learn” Program is a labor intensive effort because the classes are kept small and there is lots of one-on-one teaching. The program, however, meets the need for those who want to hunt and are looking for a safe place to get more knowledge and experience. And it’s working well.”
Hunt and Learn started in 2010 with one workshop and 11 participants. Since then, more than 900 students have taken the courses, with nine workshops and 158 students in 2017.
The schedule for 2018 workshops will be set in the spring. Lane indicates they are also considering offering some workshops for adults. Programs will be scheduled at Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center/Clybel WMA, Buck Shoals WMA, Chattahoochee Fall Line WMA and other locations.
Inaugural National R3 Symposium Set for May 21-23 For the first time, a nationwide symposium solely focused on resources and partnerships needed to secure the future of hunting, angling, target shooting and boating is being held May 21-23, 2018, at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, Lincoln, Neb.
This meeting is described as “the premier venue for the outdoor community to advance the field of outdoor recreation recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) in the United States. The National R3 Symposium will provide an unparalleled opportunity for agencies, industries and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) to share, learn and develop the limitless opportunities our collective community has to accelerate the current state of R3 effort and impact.”
About the Author Chris Chaffin has been an outdoor communicator, educator and partnership manager for more than 40 years. He has worked on the national scene representing several prominent components of the outdoor community promoting hunting, fishing, the shooting sports and conservation. He served two terms as Treasurer for theProfessional Outdoor Media Association(POMA), eventually taking on roles as vice-president, President and Chairman of the Board.
In 2007, he launchedChaffin Communications, Inc., a communications consulting company focusing on the outdoors. In 2012, with support from the Outdoor Adventure Dream Giveaway, Chaffin founded and currently manages theOutdoor Adventure Conservation Fund, a Florida non-profit established to encourage and facilitate more people participating in traditional outdoor activities. For more information,click here.