In 2010 I got the opportunity to attend an amazing workshop in Arkansas: the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow.
The workshop was designed for upper-level natural resource students who have little to no personal experience hunting. Hunting licenses and excise taxes on firearms and ammunition are the largest source of funds for wildlife management and future managers need to understand the biological and cultural basis of hunting.
All of us from UAM (including our instructors) on beautiful Wildlife Farms in Casscoe, Arkansas.
We spent 3 days on a game farm learning about the traditions of hunting as well as firearm safety. The farm was spectacular, especially the food!
Down time in the lodge.
We also spent a lot of time practicing with the shotguns. We were each assigned our own 20 gauge to work with the whole weekend.
Learning proper shooting stance, it took a while for me to get that down!
And we got to spent some time shooting clay pigeons at the skeet range! I learned a lot about how I shoot during these exercises.
Practice at the skeet range
On the last day we got to go on our first hunt. Each student was paired with an instructor and we went out into the field with a guide and dog to go pheasant hunting. I was nervous and worried that I would not be able to do it but the instructors were so helpful and patient that the hunt turned into one of the best experiences of my life.
Our bird dog, Fred, on point.
Me on the hunt, watching Fred.
We spent a few hours hunting. I missed a few birds but I did finally take one!
Me with my pheasant and my instructor!
I couldn’t believe it! I was shaking when Fred brought my bird back. It was so exciting. I put my bird in my vest and we continued on. That was the only pheasant I got but I couldn’t have been more proud.
Me and my bird.
When we got back to the lodge we were taught how to clean our birds and remove the meat. Then we were taught how to safely store the meat and even given some recipe ideas! That night the chefs at the lodge used our meat to make a delicious creamy pheasant dish.
Our hunting party.
Not only did I learn a lot at this workshop I gained so much confidence in my abilities as a future hunter. I’m continually grateful for the opportunity the CLfT workshop afforded all of us.