Weslaco East High School junior Andru Zuniga had the unique experience of applying classroom instruction directly to the great outdoors. Andru recently completed coursework for a hunting certificate and had the opportunity to take part in an actual hunt.
“We want to expose the kids to the outdoors,” WEHS Law I instructor Ricardo Orozco said. “There are a lot of resources here in the Valley for hiking, camping and hunting that our students don’t know about.”
Andru along with his father and Orozco recently traveled to Coleto Creek Park in Victoria for a hunt hosted by Serve Outdoors. All participants were required to have a Hunters Education certification. By state law every hunter, including out-of-state hunters, born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 are required to obtain this certification if they hunt. The minimum age of certification is nine.
“We work with Junior Muñoz from Serve Outdoors which helps conduct youth hunts on public and private land,” Orozco said. “This particular hunt helps with population control at the park.”Aside from his certification, Andru had to demonstrate shooting proficiency at 100 yards to be selected for this hunt. During the two-day excursion, Andru met with fellow hunters and learned about the patience required in a deer blind. “It was harder than I thought,” he said. “The most difficult part was waiting.”
Gun safety is top priority with the hunter’s program.
“Students need to pay attention to what is in front of the target as well as what is behind the target,” Orozco said.
Although Andru did not bring a deer home, he learned invaluable lessons.
“We learned how to light a fire, water safety, how to field dress an animal, and how to follow game laws,” Andru said. “I want this to be a hobby and pass on these skills to my children.”
The Texas Hunters Education Program issues a lifetime certification once students successfully complete the course. Hunters Ed is part of the Criminal Justice Law I classes and is an extension of the curriculum. Students review game laws which cover trespassing, warrants, police reports, license violations, fines and restitution. Students also learn about the elements of a crime, law enforcement terminology, firearm safety, the ethics of firearms and the ethics of hunting.
“All deer in Texas are property of the state,” Orozco said. “The game warden is there to enforce game laws.”
Students receiving this certification are: Audri Barrientos, Alicia Bautista, Charlie Delgadillo, Justin Gamez, Marely Gaona, Michelle Garces, Angelica Herrera, Natalie Lopez, Adam Lopez, Dakotah Martinez, Alizae Martinez, Adrian Martinez, Franchesca Perez, Narayith Perez, Rebecca Rodriguez, Jesus Tello, Kayleigh Velasquez and Andru Zuniga.
Andru is looking forward to another hunting trip scheduled for February 24.
“I am excited to see the volunteers again and get another chance to hunt,” he said.
Orozco hopes more students are able to take advantage of this opportunity.
“Statistics show that we are losing young people, not only the hunting aspect but in the outdoors,” he said. “We lose about six percent of hunters annually.” According to Orozco, baby boomers make up about a third of all hunters and are aging out of hunting without a younger generation to replace them.
Serve Outdoors is a non-profit organization that assists disabled individuals, veterans, wounded warriors, youth, special-needs individuals and the elderly experience the great outdoors on hunting and fishing adventures.