A new program developed by the Illinois Natural History Survey with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources aims to encourage more adults to hunt. The Hunter Recruitment Program is offering a series of free workshops around the state, giving new hunters an opportunity to learn from experienced mentors and to get hands-on experience hunting for deer, turkey, squirrels, pheasants, ducks, geese and other game.
Hunting is important to both the economy and ecosystems of Illinois. INHS human dimensions scientist Craig Miller found that, during the 2012 season, waterfowl hunting alone generated $261 million in spending in Illinois, created 2,556 jobs, and contributed more than $20 million in state and local taxes. Hunting also is a critical tool in the effective management and maintenance of healthy wildlife populations and habitat.
“Hunting is a great way to obtain your own natural meat while getting exercise and sharing time with friends and family in the outdoors,” said Jared Duquette, hunter and trapper recruitment scientist at INHS and coordinator of the Hunter Recruitment Program. “It also provides critical revenue the Illinois DNR relies on to support conservation of game and non-game species and maintenance of wildlife areas that many hunters and non-hunters use for recreation.”
Unfortunately, the number of active hunters has declined in recent years. Fewer people are learning to hunt when they are young, and some who do hunt in their youth don’t maintain the habit as adults.
The new INHS program aims to reverse that decline by offering free workshops for adults across Illinois. The two-day workshops will include presentations and hands-on activities covering:
- Hunting history and ethics
- Game animal behavior and ecology
- Safely using firearms and archery equipment
- Purchasing and using proper clothing and gear
- Hunting laws and licenses
- Butchering, storing and cooking harvested game
- Scouting and accessing land
- Target shooting exercise
- Live hunt with an experienced hunting mentor
Workshops are scheduled for residents around Bloomington, Blue Island, Central/Northside Chicago, Danville, East St. Louis, Effingham, Freeport, Havana, Libertyville/Waukegan, Mount Vernon, Marion/Murphysboro/West Frankfort, Moline, O’Fallon, Peoria, Springfield and St. Charles. There will also be workshops at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and Western Illinois University (Macomb) that are restricted to university students. Note that there are separate workshops for terrestrial game and waterfowl open to any adults who have not previously hunted these species.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To see a list of all upcoming workshop locations and dates, and to register online, visit https://publish.illinois.edu/hunttrapillinois/upcoming-workshops/.
Experienced hunters are needed to help with the target shooting and live hunting activities (five hours total); email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
For more information, visit the program’s website (https://publish.illinois.edu/hunttrapillinois/) or contact email@example.com.