Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Hosts First Shot Mentored Deer Hunt

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge hosted the First Shot Mentored Deer Hunt on October 26-27, 2018 with Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, and National Wild Turkey Federation.  Over 60 aspiring new hunters applied for the 23 openings to be paired with an experienced mentor and learn what’s involved in a supportive environment from scouting, field care, and harvesting their first deer.  The 23 selected are all new adult hunters that don’t have a support network to help them learn this lifelong endeavor.  The program builds on the first ever First Shot Mentored Turkey Hunt held at the refuge in April this year.

Nasr Majid, who harvested a hind on the refuge shared, “My driving intent in wanting to hunt is passing along a lifelong outdoor skill to my kids, and be able to enjoy the most local organic food I harvested myself …. With all these natural resources around us, I’ve realized that hunting and conservation go together and being involved not only benefits the individual but provides resources for local conservation.”

Orientation on Sunday October 21st focused on learning about scouting, deer biology, techniques, and even tasting wild game.  The next weekend the mentees and mentors ventured on their first hunt at locations across the refuge and at several nearby private locations generously donated by Muddy Marsh Outfitters, individual leases, and Tudor Farms-Young Life.  The mentees harvested seventeen deer this past weekend.  Mentor Maribeth Kulynycz shared after her mentee Nettiel Stewart harvested her first deer, “I can not wait to see what the future holds for her and all the others that participated, it was amazing to see so many people all from different places and backgrounds come together as one…hunting tends to do that.”

Hunting and fishing contributes significantly to wildlife conservation especially at the state level, with about 59 percent of funding, or $3.3 billion, from hunting and fishing-related activities.  But according to a survey  by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only 5 percent of Americans, 16 years old and older, hunt, half of what it was 50 years ago.  With nearly a third of current hunters as baby boomers, this decline will dramatically worsen within a decade and threaten the ability to fund conservation.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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