Mentoring is woven in the fabric of hunting. For millennia the tradition has been passed down through generations and shared with friends. For the tradition to continue, the each generation of hunters are tasked with passing the torch to the next.
Fish and Game's Maiden Hunt Series explores how rewarding it can be for hunters to pass on their passion for the outdoors, and shares the stories of new hunters, from completing their hunter education and seeking out a mentor to experiencing their first hunt. Each hunter comes to hunting with a different perspective, background, concerns, and interests. From balancing a love of nature with the emotional experience of harvesting an animal, to following in family footsteps, these short films explore the realities of becoming a hunter and illustrate how hunting is so much more than the harvest.
The second video of this three-part series follows the journey of Kori, as she undertakes her first deer hunt. Kori is led by mentor Katie Oelrich, who is also an Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologist.
A year later, Fish and Game staff followed up with Kori to learn more about her experience, and her plans for her future as a hunter. Here's what she had to say:
Q: What were some of the challenges you had to overcome to get started in hunting, and how did your mentorship experience help you to overcome them?
K: In general, the sport feels overwhelming to think about if you've never done it before. There is a lot of gear you need. There are a lot of rules and steps and they happen over time. I can't imagine how long it might have taken me to figure this out on my own. This is hardly the kind of sport you can just Google your way through, although there are a growing number of resources that make that easier, such as gohuntidaho.org. My involvement in the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Learn to Hunt program and my mentorship from Katie has meant so much to me. I feel years ahead of the game. I sometimes wonder if it would have felt like too much without the support and encouragement from the BHA hunting community.
Q: What were some of the most valuable things you learned from Katie during your mentored hunt?
K: Katie taught me so much. She was with me every step of the way. She taught me how to hunt from start to finish. I know I walked away with a buck, but I would have been more than okay if that had not happened because I gained so much experience learning how to hunt. Everything from what to pack, how to behave, where to walk, what time to be on the ridgeline, what to look for on the ridgeline; I learned how to spot, track, stalk, shoot and dress an animal. But the most valuable lesson Katie taught me was perseverance and pushing through my fears. She pushed me through that and now I know what it feels like to come out on the other side.
Q: Are you planning on hunting again this year, and if so, how has your mentored hunt helped you prepare for this season?
K: I am hunting again this year. I drew deer and elk tags for the first time. My mentor experience helped prepare me by teaching me about all the things I need to do to prepare. Big game hunting may only be a short and specific time of year, but it's something you can be thinking about all year and learning how other experienced hunters prep throughout the year has been hugely helpful.
Q: Are there any areas where you still feel like you will need additional guidance, and if so, what resources do you plan on using?
K: I have so much still to learn. This year I will be going for an elk, so that may add a learning curve. I look forward to growing in this sport and learning from experience and peers. I have plans to hunt with my dad for the first time and a couple of experienced friends. I would also love to do more scout trips with just about anyone who wants to go. I love seeing animals in their natural habitat and just living their lives. Such special, rare opportunities to be able to witness.
Q: Now that you’ve gone through the mentorship experience, how do you plan on passing on the hunting tradition?
K: Although I still feel like such a novice, I want to take everyone out! I have told anyone I know with an interest to sign up for the Learn to Hunt mentor program. I have arranged a target shooting date with some old friends and new friends to gain some more experience with guns. I talk about my journey with anyone who will listen to them, to let them know that there is a hunting community here in Boise that is eager to support anyone who genuinely wants to learn to hunt or fish, who make it so much less overwhelming. Oh, and I cook a lot of wild food in hopes to inspire people to go get their own!