For me personally, access to wild game meat is one of the most important things that draws me to hunting – a true “field to fork” experience. Sure, I love the adventure and peace of being outdoors and the camaraderie with family and friends too. But when it comes down to it, I actually pull the trigger or release an arrow with the intent to eat wild game meat – no other reason.
And I’m certainly not alone in that feeling.
The Field to Fork Program, offered by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and supported by numerous other partners, has been wildly successful to date for several reasons. First, it’s a great and responsible conservation organization that has invested heavily in hunter recruitment efforts over the years. It was spearheaded by Hank Forester (QDMA Hunting Heritage Programs Manager) and Charles S. Evans (Georgia R3 Coordinator with the Georgia Wildlife Federation) in 2016. But one of the main points of the program that consistently attracts new hunters (often from urban areas) is related to food.
Field to Fork Introduction
Check out the video below for a glimpse into what the program is all about and how participants have reacted to it.
Michelle summarized it well, stating, “Hunting is more humane than how most meat sources are provided to you at the grocery store.” Nearly every hunter in the video started with their interest in the food. But after getting out on a hunt, they each realized hunting is so much more, from enjoying nature to being part of the natural cycle of things.
I recently contributed an article to the QDMA’s magazine, Quality Whitetails, about such a topic. In the August/September 2019 issue, I discuss how the “traditional” hunting crowd can and should relate to new demographics. One of those key points is (unsurprisingly) food.
How to Get Involved
If you’re a new/curious hunter, get involved in a Field to Fork event! The program is currently being offered in 12 states. Reach out to the QDMA and see what upcoming events they have. You can start by sampling some delicious wild game meat, and learn more about the hunting process. If you’d like, there’s even an option to get out on a mentored hunt afterwards. But start with the venison!
If you’re an existing hunter, please take some inspiration from this program. Reach out to QDMA to put on a Field to Fork event near you. Ask around your network and see if you can mentor a new hunter this season. At the very least, offer some of your venison to others who haven’t tried it before. You never know who might be curious about learning more!