The National Deer Association’s (NDA) food-focused hunter recruitment program, Field to Fork, aims to teach adults from non-hunting backgrounds how to harvest their own local meat. After finding fledgling hunters at local farmers markets, Field to Fork’s unique approach starts with offering a sample from a spread of venison sausage, grilled backstrap and venison jerky. They are also provided literature about deer hunting and are offered the opportunity to participate in a season-long mentored hunting program.
The goal of Field to Fork is to teach participants how to hunt and acquire a wild, healthy and sustainable source of food on their own. This program has hosted mentored hunting trips in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin in 2021.
“The Field to Fork program has been beyond successful and it’s really exciting to put another great year in the books,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of NDA. “Hunter recruitment is such an important part of our mission and seeing so many new hunters get excited to learn and experience what Field to Fork really means is extremely fulfilling.”
By bringing together individuals with an interest in wild food, wild spaces and deer hunting, non-hunters can experience the excitement of deer camp or when hunting with friends and family. The community is a diverse group of individuals brought together by their shared passions. The organization credits its program’s camaraderie for its success. Thanks to these 43 mentored hunts, participants are sharing their new skills with friends or family.
“Eighty percent 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,” said Hank Forester, NDA Director of Hunting. “Field to Fork is proving there is strong desire among many non-hunting adults to learn to hunt deer for food.” And now Field to Fork graduates have the independence and ability to hunt on their own after receiving a helping hand for their first experience.