Field Notes of A Rookie Sportsperson: The Language of Hunting


RSP participants receive archery instruction.
Rookie Sportsperson System participants get archery instruction as aspect of CPW’s current Bang ‘N Twang occasion.

1st we discovered about “Bang ‘N Twang.” Then we had been taught to “keep your chicken wing up.” Ultimately we had been instructed about our “cheek weld,” how to “stay in your gun” and taught to determine “puddle ducks” and “potholes.”

Who knew hunting has its personal language? Thanks to our participation in the year-extended Rookie Sportsperson System (RSP) provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Area in Colorado Springs, my daughter, Natalie, and I are becoming fluent in hunting. 

Encounter Colorado’s Good Outdoors

That is the beauty of the RSP. It requires persons like Natalie and me, who have tiny or no outside expertise, and teaches them outside abilities and, hopefully, inspires them to get outdoors and sample all the adventures offered in Colorado’s fantastic outdoors.

We are studying about hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and a great deal additional. We became certified in the protected handling of firearms via a Hunter Education course and have been out on a couple modest-game hunts with our mentor, District Wildlife Manager (DWM) Logan Wilkins.

Bang ‘N Twang

So about the “Bang ‘N Twang.”  It is an occasion at Pikes Peak Gun Club east of Colorado Springs exactly where our RSP group went with our CPW officer mentors to practice with shotguns, rifles and bows.

The shotgun practice will prepare us for dove hunting at South Republican State Wildlife Location close to Burlington in the fall. Rifle practice is preparing us for our upcoming large game hunts (I’m going pronghorn hunting). And the archery instruction is an introduction for these who may well want to pursue archery hunting outdoors of RSP.  


Shooting at moving clay targets
RSP participants shoot at moving clay targets.

At the “Bang ‘N Twang,” my 1st station was shotgun. Location Wildlife Manager Frank McGee gave an introductory speak to our group, providing ideas for working with a 20-gauge pump action Remington 870 to shoot at moving clay targets – meant to mimic the doves we’ll be hunting out east in a couple of weeks.

“You’ll hear us inform you all through the day to ‘keep your chicken wing up.’ That balls up the muscle in your shoulder and keeps your gun in the pocket,” McGee mentioned. “Get a great cheek weld to the stock. Remain in your gun and stick to the clay all the way to the ground.”

Soon after a couple of rounds, I started to get the hang of it. It was my 1st time shooting a shotgun and I had a bit of beginner’s luck. On my second round via, I hit 5 out of 5 clays, handing off my shotgun to the subsequent individual with no a miss.

“Looks like Travis is prepared for dove hunting,” McGee mentioned.


Natalie poses with her target after large-bore shooting practice.
Natalie Duncan proudly poses with her target right after significant-bore shooting practice.

Soon after shotgun, I moved to the rifle station exactly where we had been practicing at the 100-yard distance. I applied CPW’s lefty Savage Winchester 243 rifle. (I had applied it in preceding classes and received some ideas from instructor Paul Paradise.) Then DWM Logan Wilkins offered some instruction and time for practice with a compound bow. The day ended with a potluck lunch.

Travis practices at the 100-yard shooting range.
RSP participant practices his significant-bore rifle on the 100-yard variety in preparation for Significant Game Season.

The subsequent day, I notice my left shoulder was sore from shooting guns all day on Sunday.

Waterfowl Hunting 101

At our subsequent class, Natalie and I attended “Waterfowl Hunting 101” taught by DWMs Ben Meier and Aaron Berscheid in Colorado Springs.

Meier encouraged absolutely everyone to preserve binoculars and a waterfowl ID book with us in the field.

“You need to be paying interest to points like size, shape, plumage, wing beat, flocking behavior, colors and habitat,” Meier mentioned.

We discovered that a cold front generally pushes new birds in. So cold, wet and miserable days are the very best for fantastic waterfowl hunting. 

We discovered ideas for identifying puddle ducks vs. diving ducks. We discovered about “potholes,” places that keep wet and attract waterfowl. 

And we discovered that it can take a bit of an investment to get going in waterfowl hunting – that lots of hunters take years to invest in their decoys and mojos (moving decoys). At the finish of the class, Meier recommended it could be worth it to go on a guided waterfowl hunt to see what the expertise is like with a person who can deliver all the gear.

CPW’s Duck Decoy Fundamentals gives an overview of some of the various types and models of duck decoys – fantastic information for new hunters who are just obtaining began getting decoys.

Deer Hunting 101

Our heads had been filled with waterfowl information, but our RSP instruction in August was nevertheless not completed. Natalie and I nevertheless had “Deer Hunting 101” to go prior to the month was more than.

The class was taught by DWM Cassidy English and CPW volunteer huntmaster Don Crispin.

“I began hunting when I was five with my dad,” Crispin mentioned. “We did all types of stuff outdoors. That was the video game of the time. The believed back then was, give a kid a rifle and he’ll develop up and deliver for his household.”

Each Cassidy and Crispin reiterated the significance of being aware of all the information of the home exactly where you intend to hunt. 

“You’ve got to know exactly where you are hunting and exactly where the private land boundaries are,” Cassidy mentioned.

Crispin added: “Go scout your location and genuinely place some time into it.”

Cassidy also reminded us of some of the ethical concerns introduced to us in Hunters Ed.

“If you wound an animal, how extended need to you track it?” Cassidy asked us. “Some hunters will track an animal all day. But it is got to be at least a couple hours of tracking to be thought of a affordable try.”

Qualifying to Significant Game Hunt

Then it was off to the shooting variety to qualify to go large game hunting with RSP. Prior to we could join our mentor on a hunt, every single of us would have to land 3 out of 3 shots on a nine-inch paper plate at a 100-yard distance.

We practiced with significant-bore rifles. I was back with CPW’s lefty Savage Winchester 243 practicing 100-yard shots. I am studying to perform with my breath and effectively use shooting sticks to steady my physique prior to I take my shot. And the stakes are somewhat higher considering that these of us who want to shoot at the paper plates and qualify at the finish of the day can go for it.

Just as I was about to get began, Don Schley, a firearms instructor considering that 2006, decided to adopt me for the day as his student. He helped me analyze what was taking place with my shots when delivering great hunting stories.

I told Don I had a pronghorn license for this fall and he was filled with stories about pronghorn hunting. He told me how he had belly-crawled 800 meters and applied his orange Panama hat set on leading of a sage brush to get stability for his shot. 

“In the brush, you have to consider quickly and improvise,” he mentioned.

When DWM Logan Wilkins asks if everyone would like to qualify right now, Natalie and I each volunteered.

Soon after Wilkins shouted “go,” we had 5 minutes to total a brief sprint and take 3 shots at the nine-inch pie plate.

As I loaded my ammunition, I focused on steadying my breath and obtaining inner calm. The 1st time via, I got two out of 3 shots on the paper plate. On my second attempt, I got all 3 shots on the plate and Don gave me an excited fist bump. It appears like I can go pronghorn hunting with Logan this fall. (As if there was ever any doubt.)

My daughter was not as fortunate. Natalie didn’t get her shots on the plate. She’ll have yet another likelihood to qualify subsequent month at the RSP dove hunt at South Republican State Wildlife Location close to Burlington on the Eastern Plains.

You can understand additional about it in subsequent month’s RSP column. 

“Field Notes of a Rookie Sportsman” is a new month-to-month function from Colorado Parks and Wildlife written by Travis Duncan, a CPW statewide PIO. Travis has lived in Colorado 17 years and loves the outdoors. If you have a query, please e mail him at [email protected]


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