My first experience hunting was with my dad. Over the years I’ve made many great hunting buddies, but the biggest highlight was taking my two grown sons hunting for the first time a few years ago. They thought I should write this article…
Subsistence to some, passion to others—whatever your reasons, hunting is a great way to enjoy nature with benefits. Benefits like a potential source of quality meat without preservatives, hormones, or artificial colouring; learning the patterns and behaviours of wild animals; connecting with a simpler way of life; and experiencing solitude in some of the most spectacular and remote regions of our backcountry wilderness. When harvesting meat from wild game you’re no longer a grocery store carnivore. You learn to appreciate the importance of using as much of an animal as you can. Much like fishing, hunting can be a productive and restorative activity for people of all ages.
In British Columbia, more people are joining the ranks of hunters. Since 2003, hunter licence sales have shown a steady increase overall, with more females proportionately than ever before. Regardless of the increase in interest, hunting is not a simple a walk in the woods. Education, practice, and safety should be the fundamentals of your hunting experience.
• Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE):
www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/hunting/resident/education.html. A pre-requisite for a hunting licence in BC, the CORE program focuses on conservation, outdoor safety, ethics, fair chase, and wildlife identification.
• Canadian Firearm Safety Course, www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/safe_sur/cour-eng.htm, will help keep you and others safe. Upon successful completion you can get a Possession Acquisition Licence or PAL www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/information/lic-per-eng.htm. Bows are not considered firearms.
LEARN FROM OTHERS
• Join a shooting, fish and game, or archery club. These local clubs have courses, resources, and communities to help you work towards becoming a successful hunter. Clubs offer social interaction and members with a wealth of personal knowledge and experience to share. If you have a relative or family friend to tag along with, even better.
• Mentorship will build on the basics of game identification, fair chase, and a clean kill. Learning the rules and regulations is essential to help ensure stress free and ethical hunting. Mentorship will also help you know about the best clothing and gear to be safe and comfortable in the bush.
• The resources of a club allow you to practice, practice, and practice. Know your equipment so using it will become second nature, not a struggle in a moment of heightened excitement.
Following these steps will lead to years of communing with and respecting nature. Learning these principles helps ensure a successful hunt, and the future of game animals to perpetuate the sport of hunting. Hunters can take satisfaction in the knowledge that they are supporting the management and conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat in British Columbia.
In addition to an enjoyable experience in our wonderful natural environment, kinships can be strengthened, and friendships made through hunting can last a lifetime. While our motivations to hunt may evolve as we age, the connection to nature seems to deepen the more we get out and explore the landscapes and forests in which wildlife roam free. The sparkle in a hunter’s eyes in the outdoors is often the same for six-year olds, 46-year-olds, and 86-year-olds. The key is to be out there.