Editor’s Note: Many of us learn to hunt deer from family members and friends. However, today fewer adults have the time to train young people in the sport of deer hunting. Most Fish and Game Departments across the U.S. offer courses to teach young people how to hunt deer and even have special days when a young person can hunt with an older mentor. However, the State of Alabama, like many other states, has recognized the huge number of adults with an interest in hunting and/or wanting to learn to hunt who don’t have mentors to teach them. Scott Carroll is a nationally-registered paramedic and has an associate of science in emergency-medical services. Currently he’s a clinical and educational specialist for north Alabama for Lifeguard Ambulance Services and a cath lab technologist (scrub tech) for the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He took this Adult-Mentored Deer Hunt Program because he wanted to implement the knowledge he had in his head about hunting and then put that head knowledge into actually hunting on the ground.
I wanted to apply everything I’d been teaching myself over many years of trying to learn how to hunt. I was told about the program by an older gentleman – Mike Jay, who was the father of one of my EMT students. Mr. Jay took me hunting on one of Alabama’s Wildlife Management Areas – Choccolocco – and I had a 4-point buck walk out right in front of me. I didn’t even hear him moving, but when I saw him, I was scared and excited at the same time. Then the buck heard a shot, wheeled and ran away from me. Mr. Jay told me, “Scott, you need to get with the people doing that outdoor mentoring program for the State of Alabama.”
So, I went to the Outdoor Alabama website (https://www.outdooralabama.com/), clicked on the Hunting Tab and then chose the Adult Mentored Hunt Program and learned all I could about the program. I went to the first workshop on how to hunt white-tailed deer on public lands in 2001, and then became an instructor. Today I teach an overview of a course titled, “What to Do If You Get Lost in the Woods, and How Can You Survive?”
Why Hunt Deer:
I’ve come to understand that hunting isn’t just for food and recreation. Hunting is a tool of wildlife management that prevents deer herds from becoming overpopulated. After the Great Depression of the 1930s, many deer were overharvested, except for a few pockets of deer that had been protected on private lands. As the herds grew and expanded, Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources realized that the deer had no natural predators to prevent the deer herd from becoming overpopulated.
Overpopulation can cause disease and kill large numbers of deer, if the herds aren’t reduced each year by hunting. I know that overpopulation and the diseases that spring from overpopulation are terrible ways for deer to die, and their meat is wasted. I’ve learned that deer hunters are responsible for keeping Alabama’s deer herd from being overpopulated. That’s why I’ve wanted to become more involved and learn more about how to find and take deer.
What Scott Carroll Has Learned:
This course enables adults who want to learn to hunt to get all the information, have coaching and learn scouting techniques to find and harvest white-tailed deer. The course includes too information about public lands that you can find on all states’ Departments of Conservation provides where a hunter can hunt legally (https://www.doi.gov/blog/everything-you-need-know-about-hunting-public-lands). Something else I liked about both phases of this program was that I was able to learn about deer hunting with others just like me, making the learning and the hunting much-less intimidating for all of us who took the course. What I appreciated most of all was all the instructors did all they could to try and teach us in a friendly, helpful way what we didn’t know and help us learn what we wanted and needed to know.
What’s Taught at an Adult Mentored Hunt Program:
- Shooting rifles (action types, centerfire vs rimfire, iron sights vs telescopic sights, sighting-in, marksmanship, popular deer loads).
- Scouting (how to identify game sign and types of sign; where to find deer; how to use aerial imagery and helpful apps).
- Understanding equipment needs and game calling (intro. to gear, explanation of helpful hunting equipment, advice on: how and where to purchase equipment; how/when to use calls; tree stand and ground blind demos and how to purchase a license.
- Reading maps/WMA overview (Explanation of WMA map, how to use satellite imaging to scout, nuances of local WMAs, helpful advice from local biologists, public-land etiquette, what is needed to hunt WMAs, what to do if encountering other hunters, how to purchase a license, etc.
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ brand-new Audible book, available since August 2, 2022, and now in Kindle, print and Audible versions, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows” at https://www.amazon.com/. Also see John’s book, “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer” available in Kindle, print and Audible at http://amzn.to/XYTCEY. You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. (When you click on the book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of these books for free). On the right side of the page for each book and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.
Tomorrow: What to Do When Lost Hunting Deer