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Field to Fork for Hunters of Color

New York Field to Fork for Hunters of Color

By the National Deer Association

According to a national survey that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts every five years, the number of people who participate in hunting has been declining since the 1980s, even as the human population continues to rise. The same data show that of the approximately 11.5 million licensed hunters in the U.S., 90% are male and 97% are Caucasian.

There is a growing movement within the outdoor industry to diversify hunting so its participants more closely represent American demographics today.

Motivated by these disproportions, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), New York Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Hunters of Color, DEC, and the National Deer Association came together to host a “Field to Fork” mentored hunting event for aspiring hunters from the Black, Indigenous and People of Color community in November 2021. The event was hosted on TNC’s Hannacroix Preserve, roughly 30 minutes outside Albany. Participants ranged in age from 34-62 and were given the opportunity to take a New York Hunter Education class, learn about deer biology and behavior, gain experience shooting, go on multiple hunts with an experienced mentor by their side, and enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie found in many New York deer camps each fall under a safe and welcoming environment.

“Without this event, I estimate that it would have taken me at least two years before I would be hunting on my own” said Avery Toledo, one of the participants. “When you are studying and reading, you have all these questions, but you don’t have someone to ask. I was able to ask those questions, get immediate feedback and not only that, after I leave here, we’re going to stay connected.”

Make sure to take a new hunter afield this upcoming season!

Top: Benita Law-Diao gains proficiency on the crossbow as Jimmy Flatt of Hunters of Color mentors. Bottom: A group photo from the “Field to Fork” event. Photos courtesy National Deer Association

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