Farm-to-table is probably the hottest trend in the culinary world, and for good reason. As we've all learned recently, local sources of food are independent of national shipping delays; it's fresher and requires less fuel to get it to your home. Thing is, hunters have known since time immemorial that if you want to eat locally grown, ethically harvested, naturally healthy protein, you can just hunt it yourself. That's where the Field to Fork program, having just wrapped up its sixth year, comes in. The 2021 participation numbers are in, and they're very encouraging indeed.
The National Deer Association’s (NDA) Field to Fork is a food-focused hunter recruitment program for adults who are new to hunting. The 2021 season saw 43 events in 17 states, with hundreds of new hunters who had the thrill of their first hunts. These events draw in people from a wide variety of backgrounds. For example, in early November 2021 the NDA partnered with The Nature Conservancy, Hunters of Color, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to host a Field to Fork for eight new Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) hunters. According to the 2016 National Survey, hunters in the United States were 90% male and 97% Caucasian. The Nature Conservancy wanted to offer more equitable access of their private properties, and Field to Fork was happy to help.
That's just one of the amazing stories that came out of the Field to Fork 2021 season. Alongside traditional events held in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin, the Field to Fork program hosted events with organizations and conservation agencies across the country including Vortex Optics, American Outdoor Brands, Hunters of Color, The Nature Conservancy, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
“Field to Fork is proving there is strong desire among many non-hunting adults to learn to hunt deer for food,” said Hank Forester, NDA Director of Hunting. “They have the independence and ability to hunt on their own immediately after they receive a helping hand for their first experience, and more than 80% of Field to Fork recruits are in fact continuing to hunt independently. They are sharing their venison with others, buying hunting equipment of their own, and even taking other new hunters into the deer woods.”
Would you like to get involved for the 2022 season? Check out the Field to Fork program here!