Maryland 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.

Apply now to become a Mentor 

Apply now to become a Mentee 

If you have any questions about the Maryland Mentored Hunt Program, please contact Chris Markin at

Coming Events:

First Shot Mentored Deer Hunt​

Hunt dates: October 30 and/or 31, 2020
Location: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas.
Application deadline September 18, 2020

Questions? Please contact Chris Markin at

**Please note that due to the current pandemic, we will be following all COVID-19 safe operating practices and all mandates from the CDC and the Governor's office. There will be no group in-person component associated with this event as in previous years. We implore that all interactions between the mentor/mentee pairings follow all safe operating practices. In order to participate in the hunt, you will need to be accompanied by your mentor so if you are not comfortable with any outside interaction this event is not going to be appropriate for you.**

The First Shot Mentored Deer Hunt brought to you through a partnership between National Wild Turkey Federation Maryland State Chapter, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources is intended to introduce first time adult hunters (18 and older) that do not otherwise have the skill set or knowledge to hunt deer on their own and would like to learn and hunt with skilled veteran hunters.​

No experience is necessary to participate in this event including Hunter Education or a current hunting license. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers an Apprentice Hunting License, which can be obtained and used for one hunting season. All applications will be reviewed for acceptance into the program. If selected, you will be notified and will be required to obtain a valid Maryland Hunting License or Apprentice License within 3 days of acceptance into the program. If selected, you will be required to complete on-line orientation and participate in the hunt on Friday and/or Saturday, October 30/31. There is no cost to participate in this event!​

"Do-It-Yourself" Stocked Pheasant Hunts
November 21-22, 2020

For junior hunters, apprentice hunters and lapsed hunters. For more information, click HERE​.

Applications accepted online through Compass.

Questions? Please call Nancy Doran at 301-707-1633

​Hunt Locations:

Mount Nebo Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
Savage River State Forest
Cunningham Swamp WMA
Warrior Mountain WMA
Green Ridge State Forest – Kirk Orchard
Belle Grove WMA
Indian Springs WMA
McKee-Beshers WMA
Myrtle Grove WMA
Chicamuxen WMA
Old Bohemia WMA
Wellington WMA
Le Compte WMA
Maryland Marine Properties WMA

**During these unprecendented times, we implore all participants to follow the most up to date guidance from the State in order to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing video meetings, email, text and phone calls will help to reduce risk. Practicing social distancing and masks when meeting in person in the outdoors is another way for participants to mitigate risk while still taking opportunity of the program and events.**​