Mentor Background: Roger Collins, Jr.: “As a kid growing up, I dreamed about hunting but didn’t know how to start. I took the hunter-education class with my dad. We went hunting once but didn’t stick with it. As a young adult, I tried again, but I didn’t have a mentor, and I was pretty clueless. Fast-forward to today.
I am 38 years old, a husband and father. I am always looking for ways to connect with my kids and provide for my family. I love outdoors activities, so this year, I decided it is time to figure this hunting thing out.
Mentee Background: Roger Collins, a 10-year-old who is in the fifth grade in Walker County, loves to read, play outside and spend time with family and friends. Roger is active in 4-H, the First LEGO League and chorus at school. He has never been hunting before but was eager and excited to have the adventure with his dad.
By Roger Collins Jr.
I didn’t grow up hunting, but I always longed for the time and attention from my dad that I thought hunting would bring.
He and I only made it on one hunt, and I still remember every sight and sound. I grew up and moved away, and I regret not pursuing hunting and longed for that time and mentoring in the woods with my dad.
My son is 10 now, and he longs for that same time and mentoring from me. With no gear and no clue where to start, I turned to the DNR website and the Go Outdoors GA app. Both are well-built and easy-to-use tools that make it simple to be an educated, safe and a responsible hunter. We brushed up on our hunter ed, we purchased our licenses, talked about gun-safety, conservation and gathering our own food. A friend offered us a spot to hunt and even let me borrow his rifle and two bullets.
When that day came, we woke early and set out on our hunt. The destination was a friend’s old barn overlooking a field. We talked and laughed and had a wonderful time. We were so noisy that we never had a chance.
We saw no deer that day, so we never got off a shot. We walked the woods and created a memory that will last a lifetime. After we returned our rifle and two bullets, we found a place for breakfast and planned our next hunt.
Why Is Mentoring Is Important To Me
When I was a kid, my dad and I wanted to start hunting. We took hunter education together and went on a rabbit hunt with a family friend, but we didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t have gear, and we didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know how to start. We needed a mentor, someone with experience and knowledge who was willing to invest in us and guide us in developing our interest.
To someone who has never hunted before, the process can be intimidating. What licenses do I need? What gear do I need ? Where can I go? What kind of gun should I have? What if I don’t shoot anything? What if I do shoot something? The list goes on and on. If you’ve hunted all your life, these are no-brainers, but if you are new to hunting, the struggle is real.
Hunter education is a good place to start, and the Internet has a wealth of information right at our fingertips. However, a willing mentor, someone who will invest time and energy into new hunters is a priceless resource.
I want to be a mentor to new hunters because I never had one. I missed out on hunting as a kid. I never got the time I longed for in the woods with my dad.
There are plenty of deserving mentors out there who give of themselves to help mentor hunters, and to those men and women, I want to say thank you. The impact you are having in the lives of your mentees will outlast any trophy you’ve ever taken in the woods.
If you used to hunt and maybe you lost interest, I would challenge you to reactivate. Become a mentor. That kid down the street who doesn’t have a dad, maybe your own kid, or maybe that 38-year-old next door who doesn’t know where his food comes from. They all desperately need the time and attention that a mentor can offer.
I look forward to continuing to mentor my son and others, even as I continue to figure out this hunting thing.
Thank you to my mentors: Dad, Dan, Mr. High for that first rabbit hunt so many years ago, and Joe for that borrowed rifle and two borrowed bullets.