Removing Barriers for New Hunters
By: Kyle Grammatica
Hunting can have many barriers to first-timers, especially women: where to go, how to shoot, what are the rules. The Gator Gobblers, a chapter of The National Wild Turkey Federation in Alachua County, were established in 2011 by Missie Schneider to address these barriers along with conserving wild turkeys and America’s hunting heritage. Over the past decade they’ve introduced hundreds of Floridians to hunting, including many women and youth. Our Foundations is passionate about introducing new hunters to the sport, making the Gator Gobblers an ideal partner. We have awarded two grants totaling $15,000 to the Gator Gobblers for youth and women’s hunting education programs and land conservation initiatives.
Their hunts are especially popular. In addition to a turkey dinner, participants gain a deep appreciation for hunting, wildlife management, and conservation efforts. They also impart tradition and hunter ethics along with firearm safety and shooting proficiency.
The Foundation’s Grants Program Administrator Anita Forester recently participated in a hunt at the 3,000-acre Little Orange Creek Preserve. As a novice, Anita was taught gun safety and allowed to practice at the range. Later in the day Anita and Missie spent hours in a tree stand. Right before sunset, a large boar appeared in a clearing about 85 yards away. Anita took a perfect shot; she kept some meat and donated the rest to the camp.
“Tent camping, waking before daylight, being in the tree stand as the sun rises, and making every attempt to blend in with the natural world is the best part of hunting,” said Anita. “It was a huge benefit, both professionally and personally, participating in the program, experiencing the entire process, and being able to spend time with Missie.”
Hunting is an effective tool for keeping populations of deer and other game animals – including non-native, destructive wild hogs – in balance. Help us support organizations like Gator Gobblers and attract a new generation of hunters by purchasing our “Wildlife Foundation of Florida” license plate at your local tax collector’s office.