Saturday, Sep 22, 2018
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Matt Markey

Program opens the door to local, sustainable food source



Our Millennials certainly have taught us a lot, and occasionally enriched the lives of the Baby Boomers and Generation X, although we often are puzzled by a few of their tastes and tendencies.

While the Millennials are blessed with a wealth of conservation consciousness and a strong inclination for clean living, they also have helped make selfies the singularly most annoying use of a camera or phone, they’ve made buying a cup of coffee a steep short-term investment, brought back the protest march, created millionaires out of a gaggle of talentless narcissists like the Kardashians, and replaced the timeout chair with safe spaces.

And while they are more prone to jump jobs or careers in mid-stream, and more socially conscious in somewhat rose-colored glasses, they also are about healthy eating. The Millennials have wisely pushed the use of locally sourced, truly organic, much safer foods. The rest of us are smart to follow their lead.

A better diet, packed with food that never went through a factory or a “processing” plant is tougher to come by. In dollars and cents, it often doesn’t make sense for many folks. Whole Foods can cost a whole bunch.

A program offered by a local conservation group will show one potential gateway to a better diet, healthier eating, and a new connection with the outdoors world all around us, minus the weekly price tag. In September, the Maumee Valley Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will offer its first “Hunting for Food” series of workshops and instruction.

More than two dozen individuals will be introduced to hunting as a means to provide fresh meat and protein for their families, creating a new recreational opportunity at the same time. The program is free, but participants are responsible for purchasing their hunting license and permit. Information and registration is available at

Johanna Dart is the hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation coordinator in Ohio for the National Wild Turkey Federation. Although not from a family of hunters, she found a path to hunting through her conservation-based education and upon learning of this source of wholesome nutrition that would be absent all of the additives, antibiotics, and processing found in many store-bought foods.

“There are a lot of reasons I go into the woods, but one thing that is really important to me and other Millennials is that hunting is about food,” she said. “One of the primary motivations is the food you can harvest — food that is delicious and really high in protein, low in fat, and as healthy as you can find.”

Dart said the “Hunting for Food” program will offer a step-by-step introduction to archery hunting and harvesting wild game.

“This reaches out to our increasingly food-conscious public and gives them a good reason to look at hunting as an option,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you are 30 years old, you live in the city, or you’ve never hunted or you don’t own a bow or a firearm. There are very knowledgeable people who will teach you.”

Dart said the “Hunting for Food” model blends education and instruction to form a sound foundation for anyone new to the sport, or just curious about the how and why behind hunting.

Applications for the program are available online at and are due by Sept. 5. The first session takes place Sept. 26 at Cleland’s Outdoor World on Airport Highway and covers the program background and the benefits of hunting.

Subsequent sessions will have wildlife officers explaining the rules covering hunting in Ohio, and the science behind wildlife management. There will be a day at the range where crossbow safety and use is covered and shooting practice takes place. Crossbows are provided.

An October weekend session in the field takes place at Oak Openings Metropark and covers how to find a place to hunt, recognizing deer sign, setting up a hunting spot, and woodsmanship. On the first weekend in November, participants in the program will be accompanied by an experience hunter as they take part in a mentored hunt at Maumee Bay State Park and also learn about tracking, field dressing and processing a harvested deer.

“It’s all set up to allow people to get comfortable with hunting through education, with a lot of one-on-one instruction, and practice,” Dart said. “We stress that this is open to anyone who is new to hunting, who has never bought a hunting license, never owned a gun or a bow, etc. It also is a great avenue for women to get introduced to hunting.”

Jeff Wright from the Maumee Valley Chapter of NWTF said this is a great time to offer the “Hunting for Food” program, and make the participants aware of the importance of conservation efforts to preserve good habitat for all wildlife.

“We’ve found that many of the younger Millennials are attracted to healthy eating, but they are also part of a large group of people that don’t really know anything about hunting,” he said. “Hunters have known about this great food source and we have been gathering it and preparing it for years, so we hope this gives us an opportunity to share that information and attract new hunters at the same time.”

Beyond sharing the benefits of bringing safe, nutritional food to their families, Wright said hunters in this region also want to make others aware of the experience and the comradery they find in hunting.

“There is a definite connection to the earth that I think a lot of Millennials would understand and appreciate, but hunting is also a pathway to new friendships and relationships,” he said. “We want to see this program expand and flourish because for many of us, some of the most memorable things that happen in the field don’t involve the wild game, but it’s the memories and the people you experience this with. We want to open that up to many more people.”

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources also offers a variety of learn-to-hunt programs and information is available at Wisconsin’s DNR has a “Learn to Hunt for Food” series that introduces new hunters to the local, sustainable food sources available through hunting.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at:, or 419-724-6068.

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