Consumers increasingly want to know how their food was raised, what’s in it, and where it came from. Hunting takes the guesswork out of the process. But what if you have never hunted before? It’s difficult to know where to start and what to do.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offers a program called Field to Fork to introduce newcomers to the sport by providing them instruction and firsthand experience. “Field to Fork teaches people who have no background in hunting about featured game, hunting equipment, scouting, and regulations,” says Becky Wallen, coordinator of the agency’s Hunter’s Legacy program.
“We also teach them what to do after the harvest, from field dressing to how you cook it. How you prepare the meat is a key factor to Field to Fork.” Program administrators are planning daylong workshops this year in northern Kentucky, Louisville, and Paducah. Each event culminates with a mentored hunt. Information about this year’s workshops, including cost, will be posted on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resource’s website
Tim Wolfe of Beattyville attended a Field to Fork turkey workshop this past spring in Georgetown, and then applied those lessons. “Field to Fork showed me how to hunt, when to hunt, how to field dress, and, more importantly, how to safely handle the meat,” he wrote in a letter to the fish and wildlife agency.
“All of this gave me the confidence of the complete game.” Then Wolfe went hunting, with Wallen and her husband, Chace, serving as mentors. “Going hunting with a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife mentor was the most important part to me,” Wolfe wrote. “I actually got to watch two hunters—their patience, the way they acted, the way they moved, and the way they called the turkey in. I didn’t take a shot that day, but I got more out of the experience than just a shot could have done for me.”
In May, on the final day of Kentucky’s spring turkey season, Wolfe went out hunting on his own. The hunt was a success. Wolfe harvested a 21.5-pound gobbler with a 9.5-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. “I cleaned him, just like I learned in Field to Fork,” he wrote.
“The next day, we had roast turkey breast for dinner. The next week, we had turkey noodle soup with broth made from the legs and thighs. “It was the best-tasting turkey I ever had.” Wolfe closed his letter, writing, “I am now a successful hunter who can harvest his own food. I can’t wait for deer season.” Recalling Wolfe’s full-circle experience brings a smile to Wallen’s face.
Developing new hunters who stick with it and help carry on the legacy of hunting is the goal of Field to Fork and the hope shared by everyone involved with the program. People interested in registering for a Field to Fork workshop must complete a pre-program survey. Participants may have previous hunting experience but can be new to the game species covered in a workshop, Wallen says. For more information, including how to become a mentor, contact Wallen at (800) 858-1549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.