Mentored Hunt Program

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First Shot Turkey HuntThe Mentored Hunt Program aims to teach first-time hunters and lapsed hunters a new set of skills, whether it be hunting techniques or how to hunt specific species.

The program pairs skilled veteran hunters with first-time or lapsed hunters (mentees) and walks them through a series of technical lectures that cover a range of topics including firearm safety, hunting tips and hunting techniques and strategies, as well as providing range time to help the mentee begin their journey into hunting.

Throughout the program, staff and members from the partnering agencies and organizations all contribute their collective resources and knowledge to make the program as encompassing as possible.

From the moment the mentee is selected into the program, they are paired with a mentor. From there, the mentor and mentee can take the opportunity to meet in person, text, call or email each other (whichever they prefer) to talk about any questions or concerns the mentee may have.

The goal of the program, and the job of the mentor and all the partners, is to guide the mentee on their journey into hunting and make sure the mentee becomes as prepared as possible when they leave the program.

First Shot Turkey Hunt 

Why do we need a program like this?

Isn’t hunting an American tradition that is passed down from generation to generation? A recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey showed that fewer than 5% of Americans, 16 years of age and older, actually hunt. This is alarming because it is less than half of what it was 50 years ago and is not showing any signs of reversing direction on its own. Over half of the current hunters in the United States are over 45 years old, with 38% of those being over 55 years old. Many hunters hang up their boots as they begin to age, which leaves a major deficit. Conservation agencies depend on money generated from license fees and excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to manage wildlife, all wildlife, not just game species. Hunters spend approximately $26 billion dollars a year, with a large portion of that being distributed to state wildlife agencies. A decline in hunters means a decline in dollars from hunters, which leads to a decline in funding. All of which spells trouble for hunting and other conservation and management activities.

First Shot Turkey HuntIt is imperative that the trend be reversed and agencies must find new ways to bring attention and new hunters to the sport. It is time to adjust how and who we market to as conservation agencies because, just as the United States becomes more diverse, so must hunting. The female population is grossly under-represented with only 10% of all hunters being women. 97% of all hunters are white and the majority have a median household income of $40,000-$100,000. It is glaringly obvious that a massive portion of our population is untapped and we hope programs like the Mentored Hunt Program will help to introduce people from all walks of life to hunting as a means of gathering food and, ultimately, a lifestyle. We are surrounded by sustainable local food sources that many folks do not think about; wild game is the ultimate field to table food source.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for this program or if you have land and would like to host a mentor/mentee team, please contact Chris Markin at  christopher.markin@maryland.gov.

Coming Events:

First Shot Mentored Turkey Hunt
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Dorchester County
April 18-19, 2020
Application deadline: March 13, 2020
Apply Now!

This event is for first time adult hunters.

If you have ever been interested in hunting, but are unsure how to start and do not have anybody in your life to help you get started, this event is perfect for you.

Applications will be accepted until March 13, 2020. Once the deadline has closed, participants will be selected via lottery and notified by phone and email of their selection by March 19. Selected applicants have until March 25 to officially accept or reject their invitation and pay the non-refundable registration fee of $40 to the National Wild Turkey Federation Maryland State Chapter.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Chris Markin at 410-221-8838 x105 or at christopher.markin@maryland.gov​

This event is brought to you through a partnership between National Wild Turkey Federation Maryland State Chapter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.


For questions about these hunts, please contact Nancy Doran at (301) 777-2136 or email her at nancy.doran@maryland.gov​​​