The Outdoorsman Program provides an opportunity for boys to learn the skills it takes to survive in the outdoors – skills ranging from building a fire to learning to shoot arrows and rifles to learning to hunt. Students learn about the natural environment and our place in nature.
The Outdoorsman Program encompasses the skills needed to navigate in the woods and to hunt correctly and safely. The boys begin in the fall learning basic orienteering and map reading along with deer behavior and tracking skills. They also work out to build up strength and fitness. Then they master archery, followed by weekly training and practice on the rifle range. Both archery and shooting require similar skills: patience, discipline, and the ability to focus. The boys learn to focus on their stance, their breathing and how to hold either their rifle or bow – both of which are physically strenuous. “When you’re doing it – it’s not comfortable. You’re trying to be the most stable you can be while standing or sitting in positions that are not usual. The boys were surprised how sore they were after a round of shooting practice,” says former coach Mr. Max Parvin ’06.
Finally, they are taken on hunts which teach them patience, perseverance, and the value of hard work. More important than catching game are the new skills learned in this activity. The confidence these boys gain when their ability to focus, their hard work, patience and perseverance pay off is tremendous.
In 2012, the Blue Ridge Outdoorsman group spent the fall months honing their outdoor orienteering and hunting skills. Eight boys accompanied Mr. Vinton Bruton, Mr. Markley Anderson and Mr. Max Parvin ’06 to North Carolina where they harvested 16 deer on a property where the Wildlife Resources Commission allotted 150 deer tags this year.
Mr. Parvin explains that the State Wildlife Resources Commission uses hunters to properly manage deer populations. An over-population of deer in an area can be detrimental to the health of the herd for several reasons. Hunters are the number one tool to help keep the deer population safe and healthy. If the population is kept at a level that the environment can support, there will be fewer diseases that have in the past nearly eliminated entire herds. There will also be fewer incidents of deer running into traffic which causes serious damage to both deer and vehicles.
Once a deer is harvested, the boys learn how to butcher the entire animal. “None of the meat goes to waste,” explains Mr. Parvin. Some is donated. The rest is brought back to school where the boys learn how to cook it properly.
“We don’t go out to kill animals for the sake of gore,” explains Mr. Bruton. “And when we put that roast on the table we honor that animal, its life, and the memories it gave us,” adds Mr. Parvin.
The boys have worked hard for months to get to the point where they are now. To prepare for this big hunt, the outdoorsmen were continuously drilled on safety procedures for both bows and firearms. “They have spent hours upon hours working on their skills and have been on a few unsuccessful hunts. For them to harvest a deer that weekend was the pinnacle of their fall trimester, proving that their dedication and hard work had paid off,” says Mr. Parvin.
The Groves Family Legacy Tuition Program honors Robert W. “Bobby” Groves III ’67 and his family. Bobby and his wife Anne were the first alumni parents to enroll a child at BRS. Their son Billy graduated in 1995 and their nephews Johnson and Robert Stevens were equally successful here, graduating in 2003 and 2006, respectively.
Blue Ridge is incredibly proud of this legacy and for the sterling example that Bobby and his family have set.