By Richard Elliott II
Treasurer/Retention & Recruitment Coordinator Allegheny RGS Chapter
Assistant Huntsman Coordinater UBH RGS Chapter
I’m very grateful for and to the RGS and AWS staff and to the many other people making this program a possibility. I believe this is a program every chapter can use to benefit the next generation of upland hunters.
When I first saw the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society New Hunter Mentor Hunt Program (NHMP), I said to myself, “Finally a non-age discriminating program!” I eagerly researched the program learning the requirements and setting standards for considering a participant as a new upland bird hunter. Our current participants range in age from 12 to 61, both male and female. I quickly requested a workbook from RGS and AWS Director of Member Relations and Outreach Mark Fouts so I could then coordinate and locate volunteers to help us make the program successful for the Allegheny RGS Chapter. Program content and supplies offered have been a great basis to get us started administrating the first Allegheny RGS Chapter NHMP in the PA Wilds Region.
I choose to break up the program by starting with a spring gun safety awareness and shooting event in late April. This is allowing our new hunters to go through a gun fitting/patterning process early enough to spend the summer practicing shooting skeet or other shot gunning games. We choose the first weekend in August to have a habitat awareness, field skills and mapping event day in the morning before our Chapter fun luncheon banquet. I believe habitat identification is probably easiest at this time of year in the PA Wilds Region. We already do a fun bird dog challenge in September so pairing the bird dog safety awareness and demonstrations with this day is looking like a sure win. We will be holding our first NHMP Upland Bird Hunter Program Hunt in the PA Wilds Region in October.
I’m very grateful for and to the RGS and AWS staff and to the many other people making this program a possibility. I believe this is a program every chapter can use to benefit the next generation of upland hunters. You can stretch it out like our chapter or condense it down to just a day or two. Many of our mentors are as excited as the new hunters. I believe for myself and fellow upland hunting enthusiasts that it is very rewarding to share our beloved upland bird hunting experiences with new hunters who have a desire to become a part of what we love.
For more information about the RGS & AWS New Hunter Mentor Program, go to www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.