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Shelter Island’s Mashomack hosts ‘Hunters of Color’: Welcoming new participants to the field

The Nature Conservancy recently partnered with Hunters of Color for a hunt at Mashomack.

Hunters of Color is an organization whose mission statement says it seeks “equitable opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and All People of Color (BIPOC) in conservation and hunting by dismantling barriers to entry through educational opportunities, mentorship, and providing resources.”

Few people know that hunting is not merely going into the field tracking animals and harvesting them for food, but that hunters are on the front line of conserving our natural landscapes.

The majority of funding for conservation programs comes from hunters and anglers, according to The Nature Conservancy, through taxes on hunting gear and hunting licenses, which contributes $1.5 billion annually to local agencies.

The Nature Conservancy encourages hunting, trying to reverse a trend of fewer hunters taking the field. Statistically, in 1968, 7.5% of Americans were hunting; today the percentage is 4.5%. Hunters of Color notes that only 3% of the BIPOC population are registered hunters.

At the Mashomack hunt, Julia Weisenberg, a member of the Deer & Tick Committee and an accomplished bow hunter who leads and participates in several programs to get more hunters in the field, was one of 10 mentors showing the new hunters the way.

This is the third year Mashomack has hosted Hunters of Color, and according to The Nature Conservancy, it produced the first deer taken, and was an “especially exciting milestone for program organizer Brandon Dale, and all others involved.”

After the hunt a meal was prepared at Mashomack and all participants were seated for the feast.  

Hunters of Color, it says, is about breaking “barriers by pairing participants new to hunting with mentors sharing their skills to pass it forward and foster a new generation of hunter-conservationists. Beyond sharing skills, it’s also about fostering a community.”

All goals were met at Mashomack.