Since the 1980’s there has been a drastic decline in the number of individuals who claim the title “hunter” or engage in hunting. However, ABAC student, Parker Gerdes, is hoping to change that.

     Gerdes majors in natural resources management with a focus in conservation law. He has given the “Jolly” award two years ago for his personality and love for the wildlife program. The senior from Canton, Georgia has been named the R3 coordinator in charge of the Learn-to-Hunt program at ABAC.

     Gerdes’ job as an R3 coordinator is with the Georgia Wildlife Federation. The R3 initiative stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation. The initiative is a cooperative effort that works to secure the future of wildlife conservation while improving our societies’ perception of hunting. The Learn-to-Hunt program was introduced to ABAC in January.

     “Parker’s positive charisma has been a tremendous strength for starting the campus program,” said Dr. Vanessa Lane, ABAC’s associate professor of wildlife ecology and management.

     Gerdes is the man on the ground who educates and leads participants through the 4-step process of the Learn-to-Hunt program. The first three steps include courses on gun safety, the biology of the species targeted and a hunter education course. Lane, a certified hunter education teacher, works along-side Gerdes, assisting when needed.

     Once participants complete the first three courses, they must complete hands-on firearm training at a shooting range before hunting in the field.

     “The program targets those with little to no hunting experience.” Gerdes said, “It has truly been a privilege to help provide those with the opportunity for their first experience shooting or hunting.”

     On Sept. 7, Gerdes took those participating in the Learn-to-Hunt program to Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center for a dove hunt. Participants in the Learn-to-Hunt program from the University of Georgia attended as well. After the hunt, participants were able to field dress their harvests from the hunt. The Monday following the event, Gerdes, with the help from Daniel Stout, prepared a follow-up dinner for participants with meat from their harvest.

     If you are an ABAC student or paid employee of ABAC and you are interested in becoming a part of the Learn-to-Hunt program as a mentor or participant, keep an eye on your ABAC email for information about upcoming hunts or contact Parker Gerdes at

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