Explore Bowhunting: Fall In
By Amy Hatfield, ATA Communications Manager
There was a red ant climbing. That’s what I remember about a recent hunt. And I sat there on the ground, slumped, quiet and waiting. The only sounds were faint scratching noises. Squirrels? Definitely not wild turkeys, that was for sure. So I watched the red ant work his tiny tail off, up and down a young, wobbly birch tree. My mind wandered and I began to personify the ant. I considered its possible motives and anticipated outcomes. What was the use of covering the same ground, in its case, tree wood, over and over? Somehow the emptiness of my surroundings — that still, quiet nothing — emptied my mind too. No worries, only calm.
The point here is that I remembered the red ant and how it felt to spy on the woods and the things that go on within them. It is relevant in the larger tapestry of the hunt. Yes, there is the moment the prey stands before you, and you’re tested for steadiness, accuracy, careful motions and quiet, fluid movements. Those are the glamorous, talked-about hunting moments. But you might argue it’s not the thing that drives us into the woods, since these moments come as limited glimpses in between solitary moments of doing nothing but blending in.
“Hunters cannot have their own way,” Karen Blixen wrote in “Out of Africa.” “They must fall in with the wind, and the colors and smells of the landscape, and they must make the tempo of the ensemble their own.”
I like this notion of “falling in.” Explore Bowhunting, a curriculum featuring 22 hands-on activities, teaches kids to bowhunt. And in order to bowhunt with success, these students must learn to fall in and fit in with elements of the outdoors. This was a point demonstrated at the first of a succession of Explore Bowhunting teacher workshops in Arizona last month.
“You can tailor the activities from wildlife watching, tracks and tracking, camouflage and archery to animal calls and behavior,” said Mike Raum, bowhunter education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We are very excited about implementing (Explore Bowhunting) in a variety of different outlets, including schools, parks and recreation departments, Scouts, summer camps and JOAD programs. Cabela’s has also expressed interest in it.”
Those attending the Arizona workshop included educators from its state wildlife agency, a high school, a local camp, parks and recreation, and ATA members representing manufacturers and retailers. Explore Bowhunting is expected to be a valuable tool for archery shops. Retailers offering introductory youth programs report boosts in sales, while state wildlife agencies see the curriculum as a tool for hunter recruitment and retention. Teacher workshops are also scheduled for this summer in Nebraska, Michigan and Oklahoma.
The teachers workshops emphasize that Explore Bowhunting allows students to discover that, in order to be successful at bowhunting, wildlife photography or simply wildlife watching, they must be quiet, camouflaged and positioned on open lanes for shooting or viewing. The curriculum is designed so students learn these important fundamentals. And they’re not taught through telling, but through showing and discovering through hands-on activities.
“In these workshops, we want to make sure educators understand the curriculum can be used for a variety of outcomes,” said Emily Beach, the ATA’s education and research manager. “For example, if educators wanted to teach only animal behavior, they’d use activities 8 and 9; and for archery only, they’d use activities 2, 14 and 20. This curriculum is meant to be flexible.”
The workshop even breaks the curriculum into areas of focus and correlating curriculum activities:
Did You Know?
Attendees at the 2008 ATA Trade Show in Indianapolis came from 21 countries, including Angola, Anguilla, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Uzbekistan.