President Jim Vashro
Most of us grew up surrounded by family and friends who helped us learn hunting and fishing. Mentoring is the fancy term for taking someone under your wing. It’s really hard for someone without support to learn the necessary skills, the learning curve is steep and daunting. In this age of urban living, single parent families, hectic schedules and video games many give up early or don’t even try. That’s why the numbers of hunters and anglers are flat or falling. That’s why it’s important for all of us to turn around, reach back and help someone along like we were helped.
A friend, Bob, was recently called on a damage hunt in SW Montana. Call it mentoring or just going to help a friend, I have a few more years’ experience hunting elk than he does so I volunteered to tag along. We left Kalispell at 5 am, by noon we were looking at a LARGE herd of elk with no cover. Long story short, they proceeded to mosey us into the ground so we backtracked and found about 100 straggler elk. They were 400 yards away with only heads showing and no cover over one ridge. After looking at options, there was a herd of horses between us and we gambled the elk wouldn’t notice a few more legs. It worked like a charm, by the time the horses got squirrelly, we had bellied within 100 yards of the bedded elk. It took a lot of arm-waving, several cows finally stood and Bob proceeded to shoot his first – and second – elk (two tags – seemed like a good idea at the time). Earlier this fall Bob had shot 2 antelope, when we drug the cows together his comment was “WOW”. That was followed by a marathon of quartering, game carting and sledding a mile to the road, 8 miles hiked total, 18 hours awake by the time the elk were in the back of the truck at 11 pm, gourmet dinner at Town Pump at midnight. In other words, a typical day of elk hunting.
Bob is very capable and probably could have pulled this off by himself but having some extra ideas, extra help and a lot of encouragement made for a successful hunt, good memories and a pile of meat. I hoped I helped, thanks, Bob, for letting me tag along. I’m almost healed up. In my haste to get going, I forgot to throw my GPS in my pack. Walking out in the dark, the map app on Bob’s phone led us straight to the truck. I’ll have to have Bob teach me how to do that, mentoring goes both ways.
Mentoring can take many forms. FWP is exploring the idea of pairing experienced hunters with young hunters who have no hunting adult in their life. Warden Sergeant Jon Obst is teaching an adult ed class at FVCC called Let’s Go Hunting to give first time hunters the necessary skills and confidence. Flathead Wildlife will be helping with a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman ice fishing workshop and a Let’s Go Fishing Open house aimed at beginners. See details later in this newsletter.
Take a youngster or adult hunting or fishing. It will help them get started right. It will enlist more people to protect and preserve our hunting and fishing heritage. And it will help you find that spark you felt when you first started hunting and fishing.
The preceding opinions are mine alone and don’t necessarily reflect the goals and policies of Flathead Wildlife, Inc.