Hunting Workshops: A Perspective on State Programs Promoting R3

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For new hunters, just knowing where to begin can be a daunting task. What are the license requirements where I live? What are the season dates? What tags do I need? What kind of gear should I buy? What caliber, gauge, and shot size are right for my target species? What is a controlled hunt?

The list of questions goes on. As an adult-onset hunter myself, I was fortunate enough to have family and friends to whom I could reach out and guide me in the right direction for the basic questions. The shooting and stalking skills, I’ve had to develop on my own.

Fortunately for those looking to join the “recruitment” part of R3 (recruitment, retention, reactivation), many state fish and wildlife agencies or game commissions put on workshops and clinics to knock out hunter education and some basic skills all in one. I had the opportunity to attend one of these very events hosted by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this past weekend, and I was blown away by the professionalism and knowledge displayed by the course’s instructors.

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This shotgun skills workshop was a prerequisite for attending a follow-up pheasant hunting workshop next month, one of the many workshops put on by ODFW to promote hunter education and the R3 concept for hunting and fishing. While the lead instructor mentioned that some people admit they are just there for the “check-in-the-box” to participate in the various species-focused and guided workshops, I was the only student out of six who had gone hunting for any bird species before. Three of the students had never shot a gun before, and four of them had never fired a shotgun before that day.

Even for experienced hunters (which I am not), this class provided an incredible forum for practicing and fine-tuning shotgun skills. The volunteer instructors were all internationally certified shotgun coaches, and had even the “lost causes” breaking clays by the end of the day. We started off with basic sight picture and focal shifts shooting clays straight in front, to crossing patterns and eventually some competition games between the students. Even though I have quite a bit of experience shooting rifles, pistols, and shotguns from my time in the service, shooting at a moving target subjected to the wind and other variables is much different than shooting targets. After a few misses, the instructors quickly identified where I was going on wrong and got me back on track to the point where I went 11/11 on a round of clays. I like to think my coach at the time was beaming with pride, maybe it was just me. Nevertheless, it felt good to develop skills that quickly and come away from the day a better and more confident shooter.

As the class wrapped up, the lead instructor brought us back to the classroom to talk about the day and go over the Pittman-Robertson Act. Despite the fun had during the day, this stuck out to me the most. Not only had the students, who were all new to hunting with shotguns and pheasant hunting, picked up some valuable skills on the trap range but now they were learning how their contributions through licenses, ammunition purchases, firearms purchases, and archery purchases support public access and land conservation. It was evident the instructor was passionate about the subject, as he had offered up many stories throughout the day about his experiences in the field and the tools he uses to be successful (including asking for permissions!)

It’s safe to say I will be keeping my eye out for every workshop offered by ODFW from now on. I highly recommend joining a workshop like this even if it’s just to sharpen your skills, even if you’re an experienced hunter.

Collin Gruin

Collin is a novice hunter and angler who is quickly becoming more seasoned each year. He began his outdoor adventures in PA as a kid, and has had the opportunity to hunt and fish in various places across the U.S as an adult. His newest journey will take him to the Pacific NW where he will continue to grow his passion for the outdoors whilst learning to hunt and fish in new country.

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