Take advantage of online education for hunting elk

If you’re like many hunters, you already know where and when you’ll be hunting elk this fall.

You’ve either drawn the license you wanted or have gone online or in person to purchase one or more of many leftover licenses the Division of Wildlife makes available.

If you haven’t yet checked the leftover list, you can see it at wildlife.state.co.us and follow the links.

However, there also are many potential elk hunters in Colorado and elsewhere who as of today haven’t a clue of where or when they’ll hunt or, perhaps aren’t sure HOW to hunt elk.

That’s surely no crime, although there are plenty of resident and non-resident hunters alike who laugh at those who admit they don’t know much about elk or hunting in general.

It’s like you’re supposed to be born knowing how to hunt elk if you live here.

You know these guys: “I live in Colorado, I see elk on a regular basis when I drive to (work, fishing, Denver, the Rockies game), so I don’t need any lessons.”

Curiously, many of those same wise guys professing to know everything about hunting elk have more ice cubes than elk in the freezer.

Funny how often people refuse to admit they could use a good tip or two.

Sometimes, one or two timely tips might be just the answer to the “no elk in the freezer” blues.

Jim Bulger, Hunter Outreach coordinator for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, knows exactly what we’re saying here.

Bulger loves to refer to himself as “just a good old boy from Alabama” and never forgets how confused he was the first time the Alabama boy tried to hunt elk.

Bulger grew up hunting white-tail deer, so he applied his white-tail knowledge to elk hunting.

To little success, it turned out.

“I couldn’t figure these animals out,” Bulger said recently. “I started asking, ‘Why don’t they stop when you whistle?’ and ‘Where you go to find these elk, anyway?’ “

He’s learned a lot since then, but he’s not forgotten how lost he initially felt, both literally and physically.

That’s one of the reasons he and several other DOW staffers founded Elk Hunting University, the no-cost, online education program the division has up and running on its website.

“Online education is a big deal today, ” Bulger noted. “We structured this so a guy can go back and read something published four weeks ago.”

This one, however, would be free and would tap into the existing skills and experience of people who could walk the walk they preached.

“I was looking not for the professional hook-and-bullet writers but for guys with the experience to help other people become better hunters,” Bulger said.

For his articles, Bulger turned to the 160 or so volunteer Huntmasters the division has on hand to help with the Hunter Outreach program.

The outreach program, with its many youth and women’s hunts offered each year, is terrific as far as it goes, reaching a couple hundred or more people each year.

It just doesn’t go far enough, Bulger said.

“My outreach programs with its focused mentoring of two or three people at a time wasn’t reaching the numbers of folks we wanted to engage, to help them figure out elk hunting,” he said.

So the online Elk Hunting University offers the division the ability to reach hunters all over the world.

You don’t have to join or pay tuition, just log on and learn.

It’s right there, as of now 13 articles covering everything from selecting the right boots to finding the right rifle and sighting it in.

Combine those written lessons with the variety of well-done hunting-related videos available on the DOW site and you have yourself a complete education at your fingertips.

Bulger described that multi-level approach as “eating an elephant in small pieces.”

“We break this thing down into manageable parts and then we bring technology into it,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

This is personal experience talking, something all of us can use.

You might not agree with everything the Huntmasters say. That’s fine, too.

But remember, there’s someone out there who might not know as much as you, and having a friendly voice whispering some hard-earned secrets might turn a non-hunter into a hunter.

Who in turn is someone who will support wildlife and wildlife habitat when the pressure is on.


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