New York Gets One Right With New Learn to Hunt Web Site


Hunting remains one of America’s greatest pastimes, but using new technology is key to recruiting and retaining America’s next generation of hunters.

Little compares to the sights, smells and sounds that surround you when on a hunt. Whether it’s walking corn fields, brushy meadows or woodland edges for pheasant or sitting high up in a stand surrounded by woods waiting for a deer to pass by, the experience is unlike any other. Especially if it’s a success and you don’t head home empty-handed.

These reasons – among countless others – are why hunting has always been, and remains today, one of America’s greatest pastimes.

But with the availability of so many other opportunities to fill “free time” and newer and younger generations opting for non-hunting recreational activities, recruiting and retaining younger hunters to keep America’s hunting traditions heritage alive and well is more important now than ever before.

That’s why using new technology to maintain old pastimes of heading out to the fields, marshes and woods for hunting is such a key aspect to continuing a healthy hunter population.

In that regard, New York is on the right path.

Connecting Mentors Online

Once you travel a few miles north of New York City, the Empire State landscape changes dramatically and offers some of the most beautiful (and bountiful) opportunities for outdoorsmen and women. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) is now offering an easy-to-use outdoor recreation web portal to make it easier for younger New Yorkers, who might not have easy access to hunting opportunities or existing family members who regularly participate in hunting activities, to match up with mentors who do.

According to Outdoor News, NYDEC launched the Learn to Hunt website as a way to connect novices with experienced hunters who will help them develop the skills needed to be safe and successful when afield. Mentored hunts will allow those younger (or older) hunters with little or no hunting experience to learn additional firearm safety and hunting skills while building confidence under the guidance of more experienced hunters.


In addition, first-time hunters can even find mentored hunting events in New York and register for those learn-to-hunt opportunities on the new Mentored Hunt Program registration webpage. It’s a great example of utilizing new technology to advance and promote a revered pastime to ensure the traditions and heritage of hunting continues.

“One of the greatest hurdles to newly certified hunters going afield for the first time is the lack of a mentor or a support system to help them understand the basics of a successful hunt,” outgoing DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. The Learn to Hunt NYDEC webtool hopes to remedy those hardships.

Right On Time

The web tool to nurture hunters in New York couldn’t come at a better time. For all the bad gun control legislation the New York state legislature rams through, they did pass a three-year youth hunting pilot program in 2021, set to conclude this year. The law allowed NYDEC to create a county opt-in program allowing 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt deer with an experienced adult mentor in eligible areas of the state.

It also required NYDEC to study each of the three years of youth hunting and report back to the state legislature. The data from the recently concluded second year is promising.

kid child hunter duck hunting

After the 2023 hunting season concluded, more than 9,400 12-and 13-year-old hunters in New York, representing nearly 9,200 families, participated. Those youth hunters submitted more than 1,800 deer harvest reports, more than the first year of the program. Not only were the hunters, and the hunts, overwhelmingly successful – they were also safe.

“DEC’s review of data collected also shows youth hunters followed safety guidelines and showed both respect for wildlife and their fellow hunters while afield. I’m proud to see that New York’s environment is in good hands with this next generation of environmental stewards,” Seggos remarked at the time.

Right at the time when it’s needed most, it seems the next generation of New York hunters are flourishing and the additional tools and technology will only help.

Similar Sentiments

Nearly 4,500 miles away from Albany, New York, in Anchorage, Alaska, the sentiments are similar. Alaskans are born and raised with a strong connection to the environment and hunting plays an outsized role in family and community traditions, as well as livelihoods. Young Alaskans are taught early on the critical importance of firearms, not only for subsistence and survival, but also for self-defense.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) recently spoke in front of dozens of firearm industry leaders during a breakfast conversation for the 2024 NSSF Congressional Fly-In. She relayed several stories about her upbringing and how hunting and responsible firearm education and training is vital in Alaska, and also how those lessons are entirely foreign to so many who live in big cities – like New York City – where children are not taught about firearms.

“It’s been a real pleasure for me to be able to express that history and upbringing to people who haven’t grown up with firearms,” Rep. Peltola told industry members. “I was able to share those experiences with a room of very liberal people in New York City and they were shocked by this.”

That was similar to comments Rep. Peltola offered during a Congressional hearing last year. The topic of the hearing was Pittman-Robertson funding – the nearly 90-year-old excise tax paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers that supports conservation and wildlife management in the United States. To date, Pittman-Robertson excise tax dollars from the firearm industry has contributed over $27 billion, when adjusted for inflation.

“I just appreciate the opportunity to put a plug in for the many, many, many Americans who are responsible gun owners,” Congresswoman Peltola said at the hearing. “You look at some of the tragedies that are occurring, and those aren’t hunters, those aren’t kids that have grown up with hunting and the good values that, I think, hunting and hunting families provide.”

Additional Opportunities

At the time, NSSF data revealed a significant number of Americans buying firearms during the coronavirus pandemic listed their interest in hunting as a reason for their purchase. That also meant millions of Americans took up hunting-related activities and took to the woods and fields. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revealed some exciting news that all hunters can celebrate. New data showed the rise in hunting interest wasn’t fleeting and those Americans stuck it out and are now full-fledged hunters. The data showed that 14.4 million people over the age of 6 participated in hunting.


New York isn’t the only state with a webtool to help connect new hunters with seasoned ones. There are numerous options available to help encourage and grow the new waves of Americans taking to the fields, marshes and woods for some time well spent out on a hunt.

There’s never a bad time to head out for a hunt. And it’s clear today, there is no shortage of opportunities for knowledgeable, seasoned hunters to pair up with novice ones, young or old, to encourage them to keep it up and continue the cycle of America’s greatest pastime.


Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

4 Responses

  1. Personally, I would not trust New York to do anything beneficial or right when it involves guns. These ‘mentors’ are probably ‘selected’ carefully to ‘train’ these young people in the ways of the anti-gun agenda and raise a generation of left wing fudds willing to bend over and give up a constitutional right.

    1. “Personally, I would not trust New York to do anything beneficial or right when it involves guns.”

      You and me both…

      *Shudder* 🙁

        1. Every gathering of “politicians” is a mix of lawyers, car salesmen, snakes, rats and other assorted vermin. Trust none of them.

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