by Sam Sotrop
Auburn University Wildlife Society’s Annual Youth Dove Hunt was held September 9 at the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station’s Camp Hill facility, and it was a blast.
The dove hunts are part of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Youth Mentoring Program. The department’s mission is to encourage younger generations to take an interest and hopefully discover a love for hunting. Camp Hill’s Youth Dove Hunt requires that all youths (15 years old or younger) be accompanied by an experienced adult with a valid hunting license.
The hunt takes place in the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station’s Camp Hill facility, but Auburn University’s Wildlife Society has played an important role for the past several years, including making sure the hunters are fed well, everything runs smoothly, and everyone has fun. This year’s Dove Hunt Coordinator, Laura Garland (sophomore, Wildlife Ecology), rallied volunteers and publicity to make sure everything went off without a hitch. When 150 hungry hunters showed up at lunch time we fed them, and the hunt started as soon as the post-lunch safety briefing was finished.
The dove hunt is one of my favorite events the Wildlife Society does. Primarily, it is a great networking opportunity. All the volunteers get to hang out and talk to the game wardens and staff at the experiment station. I had a very limited idea what a Wildlife degree lets you do, but an afternoon of talking to Sergeant Michael East opened my eyes.
But, if I had to choose, my favorite part is talking to the kids. There is something special about sitting in a field talking to a few 10-year olds about the “large black buzzard” circling ahead. Even a short conversation about the differences between turkey vultures and black vultures can change a kid’s life. Hopefully, they will find that strong desire I have to protect the outdoors and prepare themselves to be the next line of foresters and wildlifers.
Sharing your love and passions with people is what life is about. Teach them about what you love, and watch them better their lives with your knowledge. I saw the Dove Hunt as a perfect way to pour out my love for the outdoors out onto the kids. Watching them sprint back into the field and breathlessly tell their parents about the all the new birds they learned about. That is what being a wildlife major is about.
Sam Sotrop is the secretary of The Wildlife Society. He is a junior majoring in Wildlife Pre-Veterinary, and hopes to become a veterinarian for a National or State Park.