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New hunters take to the field with the help of First Hunt

November 04, 2019
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Cody - With the help of a local landowner, Wyoming Outdoorsmen, First Hunt Foundation and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 10 first-time hunters recently took to the field in pursuit of white-tailed deer. 

The September deer hunt was the culminating event for participants of this year’s First Hunt program.  “The First Hunt program provides first-time hunters an opportunity to hunt with an experienced mentor,” said Tara Hodges, information and education specialist with Game and Fish. “Thanks to the Antler Ranch, the hunters had the opportunity to hunt a white-tailed doe on private land west of Meeteetse.”

The program, focused on kids and adult women, begins well before the fall hunting season to hone hunting related skills.   Earlier this summer, First Hunt participants met at the range to become acquainted with their mentor and sharpen marksmanship skills.  In August, hunters participated in a simulated hunt, which provided an opportunity to shoot at various yardages in different shooting positions in natural terrain.

“The First Hunt program relies primarily on volunteers to provide mentoring support for first-time hunters,” Hodges said.  “In a unique collaboration, Wyoming Outdoorsman, First Hunt Foundation and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are working together to build relationships between first-time hunters and experienced outdoorsmen who want to share their knowledge, experience and love of hunting.” 

Bruce Salzmann, board member of Wyoming Outdoorsmen and First Hunt mentor said, for many, it can be difficult to learn to hunt and enter the hunting community.  “Our First Hunt program helps eliminate some of those obstacles to beginning hunters to give them get a positive start,” Salzmann said. “Hunting helps people relate to the outdoors, understand our role in conservation and provides an opportunity to build lifelong relationships with family and friends.   Watching a beginning hunter gain confidence and have a positive experience is very satisfying. The huge smiles we see on their faces during a successful hunt are very rewarding.”

Fred Williams, Wyoming director of the First Hunt Foundation and First Hunt mentor, said he volunteers his time as a mentor because it’s his way of giving back.  “I have been fortunate to have experienced so much in my hunting career.  Being a mentor is my way of paying it forward and hopefully ensuring that hunting remains part of our heritage,” Williams said.

The First Hunt program is already looking for kids ages 12-17 and adult women in the Bighorn Basin who would like to participate next year!  Applications will be available April 2020.  Call Tara Hodges at 307-527-7125 for more information.  


Bruce Salzmann helps First Hunt particpant Rachel Williams of Cody fill out her license after a sucessful hunt in September.  


Isaac Stensing of Powell takes aim at a cardboard deer target while Fred Williams, mentor and First Hunt Foundation Wyoming Director coaches him through the process during a simulated hunt in August. 

Feature photo: Katie Stensing and her son Isaac Stensing of Powell each harvested a white-tailed doe in September with the help of the First Hunt program. 

- WGFD -


 
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