In Robert Ruark’s book, “The Old Man And The Boy,” he refers to this time of the year as his favorite time growing up in Southport, N.C. When you think about all the outdoor activities that the late autumn brings to our state, it’s easy to understand.
It’s not too hot or cold yet, the insects are almost gone and hunting, fishing, boating and camping activities are ideal for the outdoorsman. This also is the ideal time of the year to introduce some newcomers into the outdoor world.
Several years ago, I was a member of the Raleigh Ski and Outing Club. While open to everyone, the bulk of the members were singles. Many of these un-marrieds also were parents who, between working and keeping house, simply didn’t have time to take the kids out for outdoor activities.
When word got around that I spent a lot of time in the outdoors, I was inundated with requests to take children along on some of my outings. Not only did I enjoy the youths’ company, but I also made many adult friends who expressed the desire to get into hunting and fishing activities.
In the years following my membership with the Raleigh Club, I’ve heard from several youngsters who are now adults, invariably expressing their thanks for introducing them to the outdoors. I didn’t think about it at the time but I guess that I was what the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) now calls a “mentor.”
Most outdoorsmen really like to take “newbies” along on outings. This is particularly true with our own kids or grandchildren. On the other hand, however, there are many adults who would like to learn about North Carolina’s outdoor opportunities as well.
The NCWRC, seeing a drop in the numbers of hunters afield, hopes to see the more experienced outdoorsmen act as mentors for the young and old. I guess hunters shouldn’t wait for some newbie to ask for an invitation to go along on a hunting or fishing trip.
It’s a good idea to be aware of the weather during an outing. If their first experiences in the world of the hunter aren’t very comfortable, the trip could have a negative effect.
Hunting involves some degree of danger no matter what kind of weapon is used. The mentor should take time to teach the newcomer the rules of safe hunting.
Even if the new hunters are younger than 16 years old and they aren’t required to have a hunting license or safety training, the mentor should be acutely aware of the gun safety afield and see to it that the newcomer is safe. Don’t simply assume the new hunter knows how to safely handle his or her gun.
The NCWRC is actively asking experienced hunters to pledge to mentor a new hunter in 2012 and receive a free Hunting Matters!™ hat and bumper sticker provided by the Hunting Heritage Program.
The majority of all hunters began hunting because someone (a mentor) took the time to introduce them to the activity. If hunting really matters to you, become a hunting mentor and share the tradition. There is no better way to say thanks to the person that mentored you.
Participating mentors will need to complete an online campaign registration form. The mentor pledges to mentor a new hunter (youth or adult) on his or her first hunting trip before the end of 2012.
In order to help the NCWRC evaluate the mentoring program, registered mentors will be expected to complete a post-campaign survey in early 2013.
For details on how become a mentor, go to http://www.ncwildlife.org/HuntingMatters.aspx.