Written by: Reid Bryant
As Wingshooting Services Manger here at Orvis, I am fortunate to spend the bulk of my time surrounded by folks whose passion for upland and waterfowl hunting rivals my own. To work alongside people who recognize the smell of a wet duck dog, the trip and tangle of an alder bottom, the jubilation of a covey rise… these are the common bonds that keep my days in the office relevant to something big and rich and real. But for many, even for many here inside the Orvis Company, hunting remains remote, and access to it oblique. In keeping with the ideal that hunting and fishing are among the greatest gifts to be given, we recently helped associates and their families clear the first hurdle in becoming licensed hunters by hosting a hunter safety certification course here at the head office.
Hunter safety certification is a pre-requisite for buying a hunting license in most states, but the challenge for most folks lies in finding a course to take. The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife has done a wonderful job of streamlining this process by making a home-study course available online. That said, a classroom and field component of the course are required, and fulfillment of these components made for quite an exciting event at Orvis this past weekend.
More than 20 folks participated in the course. This group was composed of aspiring hunters young and old, associates and family members alike. All completed the on-line portion of the course, and then descended upon the head office on Friday night for the classroom portion. Local vet and wildlife management consultant Reggie Tschorn was on hand to clarify issues of firearms safety, hunting ethics, and legal issues, and his comfortable manner put the students at ease immediately.
On Saturday morning, students gathered at the Manchester Shooting Grounds to complete the hands-on component of the class. Reggie certainly outdid himself, and the shooting grounds made for a wonderful venue. Students each were able to fire rifles and shotguns and to practice the safe handling of each. What’s more, pairs of students were escorted through the forests and fields of the shooting grounds, where Reggie had staged decoys and created “scenarios” for students to evaluate. As they approached deer or turkey or duck or goose decoys, students were able to determine safe shots, ethical shots, and safe maneuvering around natural obstacles. With an instructor on hand to critique choices and offer suggestions, this portion of the class proved invaluable.
All in all, this hunter safety offering was a huge success. A score or more of newly-minted hunters will be taking to the woods and waterways of southwestern Vermont this fall and winter, to engage in this time-honored tradition. So, too, will these hunters have a chance to better understand why hunting lies so solidly at the heart of Orvis. As the husband and father of two class participants, I can say that I’m overjoyed by the prospect of sharing my autumn with more people, and making those common bonds stretch wider and deeper. And I’m not terribly upset about the prospect of needing to purchase some additional shotguns, either!