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Alabama’s New Mentorship Program Aimed At Adults
New state program aims to create Alabama sportsmen.
By John N. Felsher
Posted Thursday October 26 2017, 9:58 AM
DCNR’s Adult Mentored Hunt (AMH) Program is designed to provide a new hunter or a hunter with limited experience a one-on-one hunt under the guidance of a veteran mentor. AMH’s are for individuals interested in learning how to hunt, revive a family tradition, learn more about consumptive outdoor recreation or simply wanting to put wild game on the dinner table.
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Most hunters probably learned their woodsmanship skills as children venturing into the fields and forests beside a parent, grandfather, uncle or a family friend.

However, many young adults today missed that experience because they had no one to take them. Groups often create special opportunities for youths, but what about young adults who want to learn how to hunt and can’t afford a guide or find a person to teach them?

Fortunately, Alabama DCNR developed the Adult Mentored Hunt (AMH) Program, a special program to mentor young adults who want to learn how to hunt.

“Most mentored programs are geared to kids,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF director. “I’m certainly not trying to pour water on the fire of introducing kids to the outdoors, but we’re trying to connect with a segment of the population that’s kind of overlooked. Many young adults want to learn how to hunt, but it’s a little intimidating for them to do it alone. If their parents don’t have the time, desire or finances to help them continue to grow as outdoorsmen and women, it’s simply not going to happen. We are looking for college-age adults (at least that age) who are interested in learning how to hunt.”

The AMH hunts will take place on either the Cedar Creek Special Opportunity Area (SOA) in Dallas County or on two tracts of School Board property in Mobile County.

The Cedar Creek SOA is a new WMA set aside for mentored and special opportunity hunts. The property covers about 6,500 acres along the Alabama River in Dallas County in the heart of the famed Black Belt region. Known for its rich fertile soils, the region offers excellent deer hunting. The habitat at Cedar Creek mostly consists of cedar thickets, hardwood bottoms, pine forests, sloughs and creeks.

“This is the best of the best dirt in the state,” Sykes said about the Dallas County property. “I never dreamed we would be able to offer public hunting opportunities on a tract of land like this. We have set aside three units solely dedicated to mentored hunts. During mentored hunts, nobody will be on Cedar Creek except the people involved in the program. Typically, hunts like this take place on private land. Not everyone has the means to go on such hunts. With these hunts, it will only cost the participants an Alabama hunting license and a wildlife management area permit.”

In a multiple-day mentored deer hunt on Cedar Creek SOA, people selected to hunt specific days will show up at a designated place. The state negotiated with a private individual to provide lodging near the hunting area. On the first day, DCNR representatives will provide firearms safety training. Then, everyone goes to the range to shoot. Mentors will also teach the participants about wildlife habitats and tree-stand safety. That evening, everyone will enjoy a good meal and fellowship at the lodge.

“People can bring their own firearms and ammunition, but someone new to the sport might not have the necessary equipment,” said Justin Grinder, a DCNR spokesperson. “In that case, we can provide them with what they need. We don’t want to deny anyone an opportunity to participate because that person doesn’t have a firearm or other equipment. We’ll have a trailer equipped with anything someone might need to go hunting. We plan to use rifles for the deer hunts, but if someone wants to bring a crossbow or archery equipment, we’ll have options for them to use that if they wish.”

After dinner, the hunting host will pair each participant with a mentor. In the morning, those two will hunt their designated area together. Participants and mentors will return to the lodge for lunch. They’ll hunt again that afternoon and the following day.

“Everybody stays at the camp together,” Sykes said of the multi-day hunts. “We’ll be cooking and fellowshipping just like many hunters grew up doing. It’s the overall experiences that make hunters, not just harvesting an animal. It’s about learning about the animal and its biology, how it lives and sharing that hunt with like-minded people. Ideally, some people will bag a few deer, and we can spend some time teaching the participants how to process those animals.”

The turkey hunts on Cedar Creek will run similar to deer hunts. For small-game hunts, participants will arrive that morning for firearms safety training, shooting and other instruction. After lunch, they will head out with their mentors to hunt.

These Mobile County deer hunts will take place on two tracts near Citronelle. One tract is roughly 1,300 acres and is about 7 miles west of town, and the other is a 640-acre tract 6 miles south of town. The habitat on both tracts consists mostly of pine savannahs with a few hardwoods along creeks

“People selected to participate (in any AMH hunt) will need to buy an Alabama hunting license and a wildlife management area permit before hunting, but they do not have to possess a hunting license to apply,” said Grinder.

The state may schedule other mentored hunts on private property if landowners volunteer to host such events. As the program grows, the state will invite more participants, and that also means program administrators will need more mentors volunteering to help. Keep watching outdooralabama.com for announcements about new hunts added to the schedule.

“We are starting small this first year, so we do it right,” Sykes concluded. “We don’t want to do a ‘one and done’ type of thing where someone takes a person hunting for an afternoon. That feels good but doesn’t necessarily create a long-term hunter.”

To register for the AMH hunts, go to www.outdooralabama.com/adult-mentored-hunting-program. Fill out an application, and send it in. People who want to participate should apply at least a month before scheduled hunting dates.

For more information, call Justin Grinder at (205) 339-5716 or send an email to Justin.Grider@dcnr.alabama.gov.

Adult Mentored Hunts

    Dates    Species    Location

    Nov. 18, 2017    Deer (8)    Mobile County

    Dec. 1-3, 2017    Deer (6)     Cedar Creek SOA

    Dec. 15-17, 2017    Deer (6)    Cedar Creek SOA

    Dec. 16, 2017    Deer (8)    Mobile County

    Jan. 12-14, 2018    Deer (6)    Cedar Creek SOA

    Jan. 13, 2018    Deer (8)    Mobile County

    Jan. 27, 2018    Deer (8)    Mobile County

    Feb. 3, 2018    Deer (8)    Mobile County

    Feb. 17, 2018    Rabbit (15-20)    Cedar Creek SOA

    Feb. 24, 2018    Squirrel (15-20)    Cedar Creek SOA

    March 24-25, 2018    Turkey    Cedar Creek SOA

SOA: Special Opportunity Area
( ): Number permitted on each hunt

Eligibility Requirements

DCNR asks that eligible participants should:

• Be at least 19 years of age.
• Possess a valid driver’s license (from any state).
• Be new to hunting, have “limited lifetime” hunting experience, or have “limited previous” hunting experience. Limited lifetime hunting experience is considered as hunting less than five occasions in your lifetime. Limited previous hunting experience is considered as hunting less than five occasions in the last five years.

To register for an Adult Mentored Hunt, go to www.outdooralabama.com/adult-mentored-hunting-program.
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