Mentored Hunt Makes Lasting Impact on New Adult Hunters
“The NWTF New Jersey State Chapter recently partnered with the New Jersey Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers to host a three-day adult mentored hunt at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.
The program began on Friday when hunters attended a safety and deer hunting workshop. They learned the basics of white-tailed deer hunting from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officer Mike McMenamin, a former deer biologist. He spoke to the hunters about deer biology, behavior, habitat and safety in the field.
The attendees also enjoyed wild game dishes, including venison wontons and black bear sloppy joes. Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge staff also discussed the refuge’s hunting and fishing opportunities and access.
On Saturday, the hunters got the opportunity to sit all day in the woods. An early morning harvest by one of the hunters provided the opportunity for the entire group to meet up and experience blood trailing and field dressing.
The final component of the workshop on Sunday involved the Future Farmers of America at Newton High School, where new hunters met in the students’ processing room at the high school and were able to learn, from start to finish, how to process a deer.
After the tutorial, venison chili and grilled loin were cooked and served. All hunters were able to take home packaged venison.
One of the novice adult hunters, David Oquendo, is representative of many new adults picking up hunting for the first time – to procure a healthy, ethically sourced piece of protein.
“When COVID-19 happened, I soon realized that food, specifically meat, is not as accessible as I once thought,” Oquendo said. “Since I am anemic, my diet requires iron-rich foods, and red meat has lots of it. Getting my necessary meat that I know is not factory farmed is important to me. My goal is to eat 0% factory-farmed meat. I am one step closer to it.”
Like many new hunters, Oquendo’s journey to harvesting his first deer did not happen overnight; instead, it was a years-long journey that started as an interest in archery, which eventually became coupled with a desire to procure ethically sourced protein.
“Harvesting my first deer felt amazing and, honestly, surreal,” he said. “From missing a 5-foot-wide target at 5 yards with plastic arrows, to hitting a deer at 20 yards with a 70-pound compound bow, tracking it, field dressing it and eventually having 28 pounds of meat in the freezer is so surreal.”
The full article and more photos can be found here.
Photo credit: Original Author