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Promoting Inclusivity: Hunters of Color’s Mission to Diversify Hunting

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In Central Washington, a group of mule deer moved across the flat, catching the eyes of a team of novice hunters. This sighting was a beacon of hope for the mentees participating in a mentorship program with Hunters of Color (HOC), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of Black, brown, and Indigenous people in hunting.

The Challenge of Hunting and Representation

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These new hunters, part of a weeklong program, faced significant challenges. Despite their enthusiasm and preparation, the group had yet to spot a legal buck by the third day. The weather was unusually hot for October, and the lush ag fields were devoid of antlered deer.

HOC’s mission is to create opportunities for those who haven’t had the chance to experience hunting. The organization doesn’t seek equal outcomes but strives to provide equal opportunities. This goal is particularly challenging given the historical and cultural barriers many people of color face in outdoor activities like hunting.

Overcoming Barriers to Entry

Michael, a Southern California native, found it difficult to learn to hunt in Montreal due to language barriers and stricter gun laws. Returning to the States, he connected with Malcolm Legette, HOC’s Washington State chapter ambassador, after searching online for “hunters of color.” Through this connection, Michael caught his first salmon and tagged his first gobbler.

Yasmine Hentati, a wildlife biologist and PhD candidate, initially viewed hunting as unethical. However, studying wildlife ecology helped her see the connection between hunting and conservation. Watching MeatEater in 2020 sparked her interest, leading her to participate in HOC’s program. She faced her first hunting challenge in the Cascade Range, where she drew a buck tag and learned valuable lessons.

Anthony Johnson, a member of the Red Lake Nation, also lacked a hunting mentor growing up. His connection to his tribe’s hunting heritage had been severed long before he was born. Johnson’s determination led him to tag a mule deer buck during a solo hunt before joining HOC’s camp to help others.

The Need for Inclusive Hunting Organizations

HOC cofounder Jimmy Flatt grew up hunting with his Venezuelan mother and Pacific Islander father. Despite his efforts, many of his Black and brown friends showed little interest in hunting, viewing it as an activity for white people. This realization drove Flatt to establish HOC, aiming to reflect the true demographics of the country in the hunting community.

Statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illustrate the racial imbalance in hunting. The 2016 survey showed 97 percent of hunters were white. Although the 2022 survey indicated some progress, with roughly 76 percent identifying as white, this still doesn’t match the 58 percent white population in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.

HOC’s approach to mentorship includes both spring and fall programs. The spring session focuses on education, while the fall session emphasizes hands-on hunting experience. This structure allows mentees to develop their skills and form peer connections. Conservation work is also a key component, instilling the principle of giving back to the land.

Addressing Racial Inequality in Hunting

A study led by researchers at Clemson University, Baylor University, and the Wildlife Management Institute explored the barriers facing people of color in hunting. Over 1,200 Black American hunters shared their experiences, with 28 percent reporting race-related incidents. Common responses included a desire for a network of like-minded hunters.

HOC isn’t alone in promoting diversity in the outdoors. Organizations like Outdoor Afro, Minority Outdoor Alliance, and Artemis Sportswomen work alongside HOC to educate women and minorities about hunting. Companies such as Sitka Gear, Weatherby, onX, and Lowa Boots provide financial and product support, recognizing the financial barriers new hunters face.

Despite some resistance, HOC continues to foster inclusivity. The organization partners with conservation non-profits like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the National Deer Association to host mentorship programs. These efforts are part of the nationwide R3 movement (recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters) and aim to diversify the hunting population.

Looking Forward

By the end of the week in Central Washington, Johnson’s tag was still the only one filled by the group of mentees. However, the shared experience and camaraderie among the hunters were invaluable. Johnson, for example, shared his venison with everyone before returning to the city, reinforcing the communal aspects of hunting.

HOC’s mission remains clear: to provide opportunities and create a more inclusive hunting community. This effort is not about excluding anyone but ensuring that everyone has the chance to experience the joys and responsibilities of hunting. As the organization grows, it continues to break down barriers and build a diverse, welcoming community for all hunters.

Hunters of Color is leading the charge in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the hunting world. By addressing the unique challenges faced by people of color and providing comprehensive mentorship, HOC is helping to ensure that the outdoors truly are for everyone.

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Hunting

The Future of Hunting with Firearms

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Hunting has long been a tradition for many individuals and communities around the world. For centuries, hunters have relied on firearms to pursue game and provide sustenance for themselves and their families. However, with the advancements in technology and changes in society, the future of hunting with firearms is facing new challenges and opportunities.

One of the main challenges that hunting with firearms is facing is the increasing scrutiny and regulation of gun ownership and use. In many countries, there have been calls for stricter gun control laws in response to mass shootings and other gun-related crimes. This has raised concerns among hunters about their ability to continue pursuing their sport with firearms. However, many hunting organizations and advocates are working to promote responsible and ethical hunting practices in order to protect the future of hunting with firearms.

Advancements in technology have also had an impact on the future of hunting with firearms. The development of high-powered rifles, advanced optics, and other hunting gear has made it easier for hunters to take down game from longer distances. While this can be beneficial in terms of accuracy and efficiency, it has also raised concerns about fair chase and the ethics of hunting. Some argue that the use of technology in hunting can diminish the challenge and skill required to be a successful hunter.

On the other hand, technology has also provided new opportunities for hunters to connect and share their experiences with others. Social media platforms and online forums have allowed hunters to share their hunting adventures, tips, and techniques with a global audience. This has helped to build a sense of community among hunters and promote the values of conservation and ethical hunting practices.

Despite the challenges and opportunities facing the future of hunting with firearms, it is clear that hunters are committed to preserving this important tradition for future generations. By promoting responsible and ethical hunting practices, embracing new technologies, and advocating for the protection of gun rights, hunters can ensure that the sport of hunting with firearms continues to thrive in the years to come.

In conclusion, the future of hunting with firearms may be uncertain, but with dedication and perseverance, hunters can overcome the challenges that lie ahead. By embracing new technologies, promoting ethical hunting practices, and advocating for gun rights, hunters can ensure that the tradition of hunting with firearms remains a cherished pastime for generations to come.

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Hunting

Ambush Hunting: An Unforgettable Experience

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Ambush hunting, also known as still hunting or stand hunting, is a popular method of hunting that involves waiting in a concealed location for a target animal to come within range. This type of hunting requires patience, stealth, and a keen eye for spotting game. It can be a thrilling and unforgettable experience for hunters looking to test their skills and enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors.

One of the key aspects of ambush hunting is the element of surprise. By setting up in a strategic location and remaining still and quiet, hunters can catch their prey off guard and increase their chances of making a successful shot. This type of hunting requires a good understanding of the terrain and the habits of the target animal, as well as the ability to remain undetected for extended periods of time.

Ambush hunting can be done from a tree stand, ground blind, or natural cover such as a fallen tree or rock outcropping. Hunters must carefully choose their location based on factors such as wind direction, visibility, and access to food and water sources. Once in position, it is important to remain still and quiet, using binoculars or a scope to scan the area for signs of game.

One of the most rewarding aspects of ambush hunting is the sense of anticipation and excitement that comes with waiting for a target animal to appear. As the sun rises and the world comes to life, hunters can experience the thrill of seeing wildlife up close and personal. Whether it’s a majestic deer, elusive turkey, or wily coyote, each encounter is a unique and unforgettable experience that will stay with hunters for a lifetime.

Ambush hunting also provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural world and connect with the rhythms of the wilderness. By spending hours in quiet observation, hunters can gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the ecosystem around them. The sights, sounds, and smells of the forest come alive in a way that cannot be replicated in any other setting.

In addition to the excitement and camaraderie of the hunt, ambush hunting also offers a practical benefit in terms of conservation and wildlife management. By targeting specific animals and populations, hunters can help regulate populations and maintain a balance in the ecosystem. Responsible hunting practices, such as selective harvesting and adherence to hunting regulations, ensure that wildlife populations remain healthy and sustainable for future generations.

Overall, ambush hunting is an unforgettable experience that combines the thrill of the chase with the tranquility of the natural world. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or a beginner looking to try something new, ambush hunting offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, test your skills, and create lasting memories in the great outdoors. So grab your gear, choose your spot, and prepare for an adventure like no other. Happy hunting!

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Hunting

The Art of Duck Plucking: Tips for Hunters

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After a successful duck hunt, the idea of plucking each bird one by one might sound like a chore, especially when cold and tired. However, the effort is well worth it for that perfectly seared duck breast with crispy skin. Here are some tips to make the job a bit easier.

Dry, Wet, or Wax?

There are various methods of plucking ducks, but dry-plucking is often favored. This involves plucking a dry bird by hand. While it’s not the fastest method, it is very effective. Wet-plucking, which involves dipping ducks in scalding water, is generally ineffective for waterfowl due to their waterproof feathers. Another method is waxing, which involves dipping the bird in hot paraffin wax and peeling it off with the feathers once it cools. This can be messy and is only practical if plucking many birds.

Choose the Right Birds

Not every duck or goose is a good candidate for plucking. The best species to pluck are dabbling ducks like mallards, wood ducks, or pintails, and smaller geese like specklebellies and snows. Canada geese are generally harder to pluck and often have tougher breast meat, making them less ideal. Always check for wounds before deciding to pluck a bird. A few BB holes are normal, but birds that are badly shot up are better skinned.

Prepare for Plucking

Chilling the birds whole for 24 hours before plucking helps tighten the skin and dry out the feathers, making them easier to pluck. This can be done in a refrigerator with the bird placed on top of cardboard. Warm, loose skin is more prone to tearing. Decide how you want to cook the bird before plucking. If you plan to roast or smoke the whole bird, pluck the entire bird. If only the breast meat is needed, pluck just the breast. Wings are often not plucked due to the minimal meat they provide.

How to Dry-Pluck a Duck

Dry the bird if it’s wet, as moisture makes feathers stick to your hands. Start with the down feathers on the chest, pinching small amounts between your thumbs and pulling in quick, upward motions. Keep the skin taut with your other hand. The neck and sides below the wing can be tricky due to the larger contour feathers. Pluck these one feather at a time with swift motions. Avoid grabbing large handfuls of feathers to prevent tearing the skin or leaving quills behind. Molting ducks may have pin feathers, which are more difficult to pull. Work carefully around any tears or holes, holding your finger over the hole to pull the skin tight. Use a blowtorch to singe small down feathers that were missed, particularly around wings and foot joints.

Once plucking is complete, process and remove the guts as usual. Rinse the skin well to clean any blood or char from singeing feathers. The birds can then be frozen for later use or prepared immediately for a meal. For whole roasting, try a recipe like roasted duck with apple chutney. If searing the breast meat, pair it with fries and blue cheese butter.

While plucking ducks can be tedious, it becomes a fun task when done with hunting buddies or family. The reward of a delicious meal makes the effort worthwhile, as no one who has enjoyed a seared duck breast ever regrets plucking it.

Do you have any tips for plucking? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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