Hunter ed­u­ca­tion

For a lot of duck hunters, learn­ing the craft was a rite of pas­sage. From a young age, fam­ily mem­bers took them un­der their wing, pass­ing their hunt­ing tra­di­tion and knowl­edge down to the next gen­er­a­tion.

Field and Game - - FGA BRANCH NEWS -

What about those who have no fam­ily tra­di­tion? How do they gain even the ba­sic skills and knowl­edge to be ef­fec­tive and con­fi­dent in the field?

The an­swer may lie in a hunter ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram started by Gee­long Field & Game. While in its in­fancy, more than 20 hunters signed up for a full-day course that con­sisted of class­room and prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises cov­er­ing ethics, safety, dif­fer­ent types of wa­ter­fowl­ing and how to de­ploy suc­cess­ful tech­niques to hunt and re­trieve birds.

Blair Find­lay and Sav Man­gion ran the ses­sions. “It is aimed at ju­niors and peo­ple with no ex­pe­ri­ence, although we have a few do­ing the course who have some hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Blair said. “The cat­a­lyst was our ex­pe­ri­ence from con­duct­ing wa­ter­fowl iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tests; we thought there needed to be more, es­pe­cially for peo­ple who don’t have an ex­pe­ri­enced men­tor.”

Sav Man­gion un­der­stands the dif­fi­culty faced by those who don’t have a fam­ily tra­di­tion of hunt­ing.

“In terms of the learn­ing curve, this course is de­signed to flat­ten it out but arm­ing peo­ple with hunt­ing knowl­edge the first time they go out,” he said. “The aim is for ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of their ex­pe­ri­ence, to go away with new knowl­edge and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion that the plea­sure in duck hunt­ing comes from hav­ing to work for it and ap­ply skill and knowl­edge.”

The class­room ses­sions de­liv­ered a broad range of in­for­ma­tion but the the­o­ret­i­cal was backed by per­sonal and ‘real world’ ex­am­ples of how the knowl­edge could be ap­plied in the field.

Dur­ing breaks, the lec­tures prompted ques­tions and dis­cus­sion, which was one of the aims of the train­ing.

“If peo­ple leave ask­ing the right ques­tions and seek­ing out that in­for­ma­tion, that is a good out­come and we are happy to con­tinue con­tact with the par­tic­i­pants,” Blair said.

Gee­long FGA pres­i­dent Trent Leen said par­tic­i­pants were be­ing sur­veyed on the course con­tent and the way it was con­ducted to fur­ther re­fine the pro­gram. “It was really good from our per­spec­tive and the feed­back on the day was cer­tainly pos­i­tive,” he said. “The Con­newarre Wetland Cen­tre was per­fect as a venue be­cause we could do prac­ti­cal demon­stra­tions in the wet­lands.”

Blair Find­lay takes to the wa­ter to teach de­coy strat­egy

Dis­cov­er­ing the com­fort of a lay­out blind Sav Man­gion tak­ing the class

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