Hunt & Learn Deer At Clybel WMA
Ten adult/child pairs spend a weekend at Clybel WMA hunting and learning about deer.
The little flat I found was littered with acorns and surrounded by thicker woods. To top it off, there were fresh rubs and scrapes within sight of a concealed spot where I placed a pop-up ground blind the afternoon before I would return to hunt.
Surely this would be the spot where a young teen would score on her first deer the next morning. By early afternoon on that Friday, I was slipping back out of the woods with high expectations for the next morning.
Ten adult/child pairs spent a weekend in mid October at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center and Clybel WMA learning about deer and deer hunting. During the duration of the weekend, youth, parents, and in some cases a WRD-appointed guide, spent time deer hunting on Clybel.
“It was a great weekend,” said Nathan Jenkins, of Eatonton. “We didn’t’ shoot a deer, but both my girls passed their hunter-safety test, and we were able to spend a weekend hunting and learning about deer.”
The weekend fell under DNR’s “Hunt and Learn” program designed to teach children to hunt safely and learn to enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a great stepping stone for parents who don’t have the knowledge to properly teach their kids about hunting.
I was first asked to volunteer for a Hunt and Learn weekend in the spring of 2011 as a guide for Hunt and Learn Turkey. I spent that weekend amazed at a program DNR had developed.
WRD’s Rusty Garrison heads up the program at Charlie Elliott. For that first Hunt and Learn weekend in 2011, he had partnered with the Georgia Chapter of the NWTF. Not only did the NWTF volunteers act as hunting guides, but they also hosted several classroom courses on turkey hunting. There’s none better to teach kids about killing turkeys than the NWTF boys, I thought.
It was a whirlwind of information that was certainly a huge benefit to a dozen kid hunters and their parents.
Ever since that initial Hunt and Learn weekend, I have volunteered for a number of these hunts. In addition to deer and turkey, DNR hosts Hunt and Learn weekends for squirrel, rabbit, quail and falconry.
With my feet now soaking wet, I am absolutely convinced this is the best Georgia program going when it comes down to teaching kids the beginning nuts and bolts on hunting.
After I got my blind set up in the acorn flat, I checked in with Rusty and unpacked my stuff into the hotel, located just below the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center’s Visitors’ Center.
At 5:30 p.m., we all gathered for an introductory meeting, and it was off to supper in the dining hall at 6 p.m. I can’t remember how many folks who’ve told me the delicious food during the Hunt and Learn weekends is worth the price of admission, which is only $75 a person.
“Since these are considered advanced hunter-education programs, we are able to use hunter-ed monies from the Wildlife Restoration Program to partially fund the weekend events,” said Rusty Garrison with WRD. “The hunter-ed grant pays 75 percent of the cost, and the participants only pay 25 percent of the total cost.”
After supper, we headed up to the Visitors’ Center for a briefing on the weekend schedule and some hunter-ed instruction. There were several in the room who had taken the online hunter-education course and then took their hunter-education test. In fact, if you come to a Hunt and Learn Weekend, you’ll be required to take the hunter-ed test if you’ve never taken it.
After a good night’s rest, all 10 Hunt and Learn kids headed to the woods. The day before a WRD employee had set out ground blinds. All hunters were given a GPS and instructions on how to use it to find their blinds.
The WMA was closed to other deer hunters, so it was pretty neat to know we were the only deer hunters on the 6,400-acre tract.
At lunch, the report was that deer movement was slow. Still, morning hunt stories were told over a delicious lunch of fried chicken.
After lunch, the kids were lucky to have about two hours in the clasroom with WRD’s State Deer Biologist Charlie Killmaster. Dressed in camos from guiding a youth and parent that morning, Charlie discussed everything from deer biology and Georgia stocking information to reading rubs and scrapes.
Even though my sweet little acorn spot full of buck sign produced zero deer on three different hunts for us, 13 total deer were seen during the Hunt and Learn weekend, and we had a few misses. Despite the lack of venison on the ground, the weekend was very successful.
“We were very impressed at the quality of instruction, quality of facilities, detail of classroom curriculum and genuine caring for children to learn how to hunt safely,” said Catherine Rary, of Roswell, who attended the weekend with her husband and two sons. “I loved watching my sons’ excitement about learning the process, participating and involvement in all aspects of hunting. We will be back.”
Hunt & Learn
Nov. 1-3, 2013: Quail
Nov. 15-17, 2013: Rabbit
Nov. 15-17, 2013: Squirrel
Dec. 6-8, 2013: Squirrel
Dec. 6-8, 2013: Quail
Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2014: Rabbit
Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2014: Falconry
April 11-13, 2014: Turkey (20)
May 9-11, 2014: Turkey
With the exception of the Hunt and Learn Turkey in April, which will be filled by random drawing, the above classes fill on a first come, first serve basis. Call (770) 784-3059 to sign up. For more information on the Hunt & Learn program, visit charlieelliott.org.
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