In Ohio, NWTF chapter hosting deer hunt to recruit new hunters

Columbus — It’s no big secret that the hunting and shooting sports are losing participants on a daily basis.

There are myriad groups trying to do something to reverse this trend, including the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The organization has hired Johana Dart to focus on recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters in Ohio. Dart works for the NWTF in partnership with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

To that end, the Maumee Valley Chapter of the NWTF in northwest Ohio will be holding a special mentored crossbow hunt this fall to introduce new people to the sport of hunting.

“The Maumee Valley chapter approached me about doing a program to recruit adult hunters,” Dart said. “While a lot of our other programs focus on youths, they don’t have disposable incomes (like adults), their interests change, and so on. There are a lot of programs across the country that introduce people to hunting who might not have grown up hunting.

“They’re interested in the food and the protein (that hunting produces), but they don’t have that background of being introduced to hunting by a family member,” she said.

These are precisely the type of people that Dart and the Division of Wildlife hopes to recruit.

All of the information on this multi-session program is on Maumee Valley’s website at Applications for the hunt are available on the website and are due by Sept. 5.

“I am sure that you are aware of the crisis which has been occurring in our hunting world for the past 20 years or more and I am referring to the lack of replacement hunters for those who are leaving the field,” said the NWTF’s Skip Markland, one of the organizers of this inaugural hunt. “Since 2011, we have lost over 2 million hunters nationally, which is starting to pose some serious funding issues for state wildlife agencies. If nothing is done to reverse this trend, it is only going to get worse.”

The goal of the first ever “Hunt for Food” hunt is a modest one in that the Maumee Valley chapter hopes to recruit at least 14 new hunters, said Markland.

The total commitment for the program is five days, three of which will be spent learning about the basics and the need for hunting.

“Basically, there will be three advance classes prior to a two-day archery deer hunt at Maumee Bay State Park on Nov. 3-4,” Markland said. “The advance classes will focus on the background of hunting and why we hunt,  a day at the range to learn to shoot a crossbow, and then a day in the woods learning how to find deer sign and (develop) woodsmanship skills.”

No previous hunting experience is required and all of the equipment necessary for the hunt will be available for loan.

Registration for all of the events is at

For more information, contact Markland at 419-769-6983, email; or Gary Robison at 419-410-5824, email

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