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UM Students Develop Virtual Reality Hunting Tool for Stewardship

University of Montana student Aidan Sweet took an ATV hunting tag, a rifle, and range finder, and travelled a path to locate an elk.

Sweet stood in an open room at last spring’s UM Media Arts Expo, not on the range. Sweet entered a virtual hunting field using a headset. Sweet and other UM game design and interactive media students created the hunting simulation.

Sweet, a senior at Maple Valley, said that the objective was to create an initiative where individuals can get educated regarding safety and gain useful information regarding hunting, all while having fun in a three-dimensional domain.

By funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, UM game design students were contracted to construct the interactive VR hunting tool to instruct new hunters at UM and other universities. 

According to RMEF chief conservation officer Blake Henning, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s interest in VR hunting is part of a bigger collaboration to promote UM’s hunting-based curriculum. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has donated $300,000 to UM’s instructional hunting programmes, including the Wild Sustenance course at the Boone and Crockett Club’s 6,500-acre Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch near Dupuyer. The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at UM offers Wild Sustenance.

Henning is amazed with VR hunting tool improvement. Last year, pupils finished the first level, which teaches hunters how and when to fire.

Henning remarked that the virtual reality-based offering is suitable for hunters who want to know more about real world experiences. He said that hunters are required to identify animals, take optimal positions, take aim, and understand ballistics.

Joshua Millspaugh, UM’s Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation, co-teaches the Wild Sustenance course with Dr. Libby Metcalf. He said the VR hunting tool will be another approach to teach hunting, particularly for tech-savvy students. He claimed it would let kids practice and acquire confidence before hunting.

Millspaugh remarked that the new tool is a suitable option for helping new hunters face some of the most prominent issues they come across. He hinted that with the use of knowledge and UM innovation helping new hunters gain a sense of security before real-world sessions. 

This semester, UM game design students are working on the second phase of the VR hunting tool, which will teach animal dressing and butchery. Trespassing, orienteering, and hunting will be covered in later stages.

Bigfork-based UM game design student Cora Lawrence is designing the dressing and butchering stage. Despite simplistic visuals, the level depicts removing animal limbs and guts.

Lawrence recalls being awed by his first deer hunt. She stated virtual testing of such abilities is ideal for beginning hunters.

According to Lawrence, the new VR module is an effective pathway for showing individuals the basics of hunting. She remarked that the objective is to be effective in communication about all aspects including the visceral ones. The main message is that hunting is not for all people.

The game designers will reveal the second level during the December Fall Media Arts Expo.

Sweet, who graduates this autumn and hopes to work in game creation, said sharing the newest VR hunting gear would be a great way to conclude his time at UM. His effort on the game, particularly throughout summer vacation, makes him proud.

Sweet grew up hunting, but it was hard. He believes the VR gadget would aid UM students like him from non-hunting locations.

According to Sweet, his team is putting in efforts for raising hunting accessibility for people who have no idea regarding it. He emphasised that the VR environment gives people opportunities to explore if hunting is for them. 


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