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Home » » Outdoors with Larry DiDonato - New Online Resource Announced for Novice Hunters and Mentors

Outdoors with Larry DiDonato - New Online Resource Announced for Novice Hunters and Mentors

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 4/17/24 | 4/17/24

DEC Announces New Online Resource for Novice Hunters and Sponsors of Mentored Hunts 

“One of the greatest hurdles to newly certified hunters going afield is the lack of experienced hunters to learn from. Mentored hunts for various game and sponsored pheasant hunts provide an opportunity for novice hunters to gain hands-on, in the field experience under the supervision and assistance of more experienced individuals.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a new online tool both for new hunters and organizations offering mentored hunting opportunities. The measure is designed to connect those new to hunting with experienced hunter/mentors to help them develop skills needed to hunt safely with better chances for success while afield. 

Mentored hunts are not new, but have been important for teaching hunters with little or no hunting experience to be safe and productive. They allow novices to put into practice firearm safety and hunting skills while building confidence under the watchful eye of more experienced hunters.

 “First-time hunters can now find mentored hunt events in New York and register for those learn-to-hunt opportunities on the new Mentored Hunt Program registration webpage. DEC’s Mentored Hunt Program registration page also provides a platform for those hosting a mentored hunt to advertise their event statewide.”

Organizations who wish to advertise and recruit novice hunters for mentored hunts can now fill out an application to have their event posted on the registration page on DEC’s website/platform similar to the method used to sign-up for Hunter Safety Education Classes. Sportsmen’s federations, hunting clubs, and national hunting organizations can now register their mentored hunt events for turkey, deer, waterfowl, pheasants, and other small game on the DEC website. Interested groups can now visit the Application to Host a Mentored Hunt site to register. 

By using DEC’s Mentored Hunt program registration, users will:

  • Make your event more visible to new hunters statewide;

  • Ease registration for participants;

  • Track registered participants to better plan your event; and

  • Promote your event to a wider audience of potential participants.

Novice hunters in need of guidance to help jump start their new found outdoor passion should check the DEC Mentored Hunt Program registration page regularly for upcoming events. Hunters regardless of their level of experience can also take advantage of DEC’s free “Next Step” program where they can continue to hone skills using firearms, bows, and crossbows. 

 Prior to this new tool being launched by DEC, organizations sponsoring mentored youth and other hunts had to get the word out on their own. Not always an easy task. They advertised events themselves in outdoor news columns, on Facebook and other social media, and by plain old word-of-mouth. I have used these methods in the past but found good success signing up kids for the annual Greene County Youth Pheasant Hunt at the annual Youth Fair. I then reach out using maintained email groups from year to year. This new online resource will make that process much easier and more efficient. DEC says, “Listed opportunities will vary based on time of year and upcoming hunting seasons. Attendance is often limited, and each event requires registration to attend.” The hunt could be a DEC-organized event, but most are conducted by sportsmen and women across the state “giving back” to the sport by sponsoring youth hunts of all types.

All hunters taking part in a mentored hunt must successfully complete a hunter education course and purchase a NYS hunting license prior to their participation. For more information, check out DEC’s Learn to Hunt Opportunities webpage on DEC’s website ( and visit all the websites mentioned above to sign-up for a mentored hunt or list your organization’s sponsored hunting event.

Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping until next time.

News and Notes…

Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend is April 20th and 21st 

The 2024 youth turkey hunting season begins on Saturday, April 20th and ends Sunday, April 21st. You can only hunt till 12 noon during the youth and regular spring turkey seasons. 

Norton Hill Wildlife Club to hold “After the Hunt BBQ” April 20th

Parents, guardians, mentors, and youth hunters are invited to come by the Norton Hill Wildlife Club at 946 Big Woods Road in Greenville at 12 noon on Saturday April 20th for a free BBQ at the end of opening day of this year’s Youth Turkey Season. If you bag a bird, bring it on down for a photo op with other youth hunters. If you didn’t harvest that wary gobbler, come and share your story of how old tom got away.

Save-the-date for New York Bowhunters Banquet in Greenville – May 18th 

New York Bowhunters will hold their 33rd Annual Banquet and Rendezvous on Saturday, May 18th 2023 at the Sunny Hill Resort and golf course at 352 Sunny Hill Road in Greenville, NY. For early birds arriving the day before, there will be a BBQ on Friday night at 6:00 pm with a 50/50 raffle. Discounted rooms that include breakfast at Sunny Hill are available. Go to or call them at 518-634-7642 to make your discounted room reservation. Registration for the day’s activities start at 9:00 am with their General Meeting scheduled for 1:00 pm, cocktail hour at 5:00 pm, and dinner and silent auction at 6:00 pm. The keynote speaker this year is Colorado big game hunter and guide, John Gardner. The event includes 3D archery and novelty shoots, antler scoring, contests, prizes, and free golf for NY Bowhunter members. Genesis bows will be provided for participants. There will be vendor tables, raffles and plenty of fun things to do. Tickets are $55.00 for individuals with kids under 12 are free. To purchase tickets and for more information, contact Annie Jacobs via email at , or by regular mail: 5937 County Road 33 Canandaigua, NY 14424. You can also give Annie a call at 585-229-7468 for more information.  Local NY Bowhunters representative Ed Gorch reminds all attending to bring a gift box for their “Camo to Camo” program supporting our veterans.

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

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