State hunting educators are turning to some nontraditional partners in an effort to bring more teens into the hunting fold.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to reach out to clubs such as 4-H, Boy Scout troops and after-school programs in hopes of training leaders of those groups so they can offer hunter-education courses, as well.
"It's an exciting concept," says James Reed, ODFW's hunter-education coordinator.
"We're not really meeting a lot of the demand out there for hunter education," Reed says. "We're missing a big segment of the population, so we're going to go after nontraditional individuals to deliver hunter education in the format they have."
The agency has won a $25,000 grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to make the project happen.
The grant is one of nine awarded to state wildlife agencies — plus one regional organization — totaling $480,552 through the NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership, whose focus is to help expand hunting opportunities for all ages, according to the NSSF.
Since the partnership's inception nine years ago, it has given more than $4.3 million to 38 state agencies and one regional agency covering all the Western states.
It is the second NSSF Hunting Heritage Partnership grant won by ODFW, Reed says. Last year, ODFW received a grant to fund updates to the agency's map of public-access lands statewide.
Reed says the agency plans to develop a curriculum that will be more expansive than the normal 16-hour course required for kids to buy licenses and tags for regular hunts.
Oregon's program has about 650 volunteer instructors, says Reed, about 300 of whom are active. He says the new program aims to add 75 to 100 new instructors.
The ODFW certifies about 6,000 new hunters annually through the entire hunter-education program, which includes classroom and online courses. Though not required for adults, many adults take the course with their kids to brush up on safety skills, while other first-time hunting adults also are welcome.
The hunter-ed certificates must be carried by hunters under age 18. The only exceptions are for kids hunting on land owned by their parents or legal guardian or kids test-driving hunting through the ODFW's Mentored Youth Program, which allows an adult to supervise a youth in the field who can legally fill the adult's big-game or bird tag.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.