Wildlife students in Indiana are learning to hunt with help from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Indiana Chapter of TWS. The Wildlife Student Hunting program was developed “in response to a decline in the presence of a hunting background among students enrolled in a wildlife related college level program.” The program’s goal is to provide future wildlife professionals with a positive hunting experience and to educate students on the importance of hunting in wildlife management.
The most recent program took place on November 23, 2014 at Deer Creek Fish and Wildlife Area in Greencastle, IN. Fourteen students from Ball State, Indiana State, Indiana University, and Purdue participated in a hunter safety course, talks on basic bird hunting technique, and a guided put-take pheasant hunt.
The workshop was also a great way for students to develop a relationship with their local DNR.
“I think I speak on behalf of all of our participating members [when I say] that the workshop was extremely beneficial. Throughout the hunt, we exchanged information and spoke about future employment opportunities…[as well as] experiences and skills that DNR personnel developed throughout their careers,” said Mari Aviles, President of the Purdue Student Chapter of TWS.
“The day was considered a success, with most students harvesting a pheasant. For several students this was a first time hunting experience,” said Sam Whiteleather, a CWB and the Property Manager at Sugar Ridge and Blue Grass Fish and Wildlife Areas.
The program was first developed because the DNR wanted to get more involved with hunter recruitment in the state. Sam Whiteleather contacted Tim Carter, advisor to the student chapter of TWS at Ball State University, to see if any of his students were interested in being involved. Many were interested so the program was organized and held its first quail hunt four years ago.
“I find these events especially important for [students in wildlife] programs because it helps them to understand and even appreciate hunting. We see more and more wildlife students that are coming from urban settings and did not hunt or have anyone close to them that hunted. While they learn about its importance to wildlife conservation in class, these events provide [valuable] firsthand experience,” said Carter.
The program has been held annually since 2010 and has included students from Ball State, Indiana State, Indiana University, Purdue, and Vincennes. A variety of activities have been offered, such as clay pigeon shooting, duck hunting, and quail hunting. As of 2013, hunting workshops have been funded through the Indiana Chapter of TWS’s Wildlife Student Hunting Education Fund.
“These hunting workshops are fantastic ways to demystify hunting and to show people how easy it is to get involved. Hosting these [programs] should almost be a mandatory event for student chapters of TWS,” said Carter.
TWS endorses the principle that hunting, when properly regulated following biological principles, is an appropriate means of managing wildlife populations. Read more on TWS’s position on hunting here.
For more information on hunter education and workshops contact your local DNR.
Sources: Sam Whiteleather, Timothy Carter