JAN 4, 2022   |   Mossberg/GPO All-Rookie Series

Forward by Hank Forester, Director of Hunting, National Deer Association

Deer seem to be everywhere. The white-tailed deer is the #1 big game species in the world. There's no other big game animal that can match its number, its range, or the number of hunters who pursue it. Deer populations are just off an all-time high, and they inhabit not only our wild spaces but our backyards and urban green spaces almost equally well.

Also everywhere, but seemingly harder to make out, are aspiring hunters. Making Mentorship Work, recent research from Wildlife Management Institute, Southwick and Associates, and D.J. Case, suggests as many as 24.7 million Americans want to hunt and currently don't participate. That's more than double the 11.5 million licensed hunters in the U.S., according to the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

Hunters list many motivations for hunting, but community brings us back. Current hunters usually found community in their families hunting traditions or deer camps. Aspiring hunters need a community to gain the confidence to become a hunter, and many come from outside our current hunting cultures. (Also, according to the 2016 Survey, hunters were 90-percent male and 97-percent Caucasian)

We walk by these aspiring hunters every day and don't realize it.

This fall, The Hunting Wire and National Deer Association, with the sponsored support of Mossberg and GPO, USA set out to identify new hunters, take them afield, and tell their story from their point of view. We organized hunts in different regions of the U.S. from the woods of New York to the fallow farm fields of Michigan, to Kansas cornfields, and along Virginia's Blue Ridge skylines. We thought these regions would offer a blend of unique challenges and opportunities to the new hunter and mentor alike. We're putting you in the blind and the mind of these new hunters. We hope you'll learn from these profiles, but ultimately, we hope you'll be inspired to identify and mentor a new hunter next season.