In Virginia, hundreds of thousands of sportsmen and women are gearing up for the most popular hunting season in the Commonwealth. The general firearms season for deer which opens Saturday.
Hunters know that hunting can stretch their household dollars by putting affordable, healthy food on the table. One deer can yield approximately 50 pounds of nutritious venison.
Food banks need donations now more than ever and Virginia’s hunters are providing much needed protein by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry.
Last hunting season more than 405,000 pounds of venison, equal to 1.6 million servings, were distributed in the Commonwealth through this program. In tough times hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest, but the benefits of hunting go beyond the freezer.
This time of year in Virginia, the deer population is up around one million animals. Hunters harvest about 250,000 each year, but the deer population rebounds, making hunting an important wildlife management tool.
Hunting reduces pressure on crops, protects expensive landscaping, cuts down on deer in the roadways, and prevents deer overgrazing an area and destroying habitat needed by other wildlife such as songbirds. Farmers, landowners, motorists and outdoor recreationists all benefit from hunters harvesting the white-tailed deer population in Virginia.
With all the benefits of hunting, it’s important to maintain the tradition of hunting in Virginia.
“We can’t reap the benefits of hunting without the hunters,” says Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan.
VDGIF has been reaching out to hunters who once held hunting licenses with the support of Hunting Heritage Partnership Grants from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. The focus of the NSSF grants is to enhance agency efforts in hunter recruitment and retention.
The direct mail portion of the integrated marketing campaign encourages the casual hunter not only to purchase a license and return to hunting but also to share the experience with others. The postcards are going out this week and those lapsed license buying hunters should look for something in their mail soon.
In addition to VDGIF staff, the team working on the program includes Jodi Valenta of Mile Creek Communications; Mark Duda with Responsive Management; and Rob Southwick of Southwick Associate. Tammy Sapp formerly owner of Tammy Sapp Communications and now the communications manager at the Remington Arms Foundation also participated.
The group worked with VDGIF to develop a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that will result in a research-based communications outreach program to recruit lapsed hunters in Virginia. This outreach effort is being watched by fish and wildlife agencies across the country.
“The targeted mail campaign to lapsed hunters at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will serve as a national model for other state fish and wildlife agencies to reconnect with past constituents through enhancing recruitment efforts,” says NSSF Manager of Recruitment and Retention Melissa Schilling.
To purchase a hunting license and to learn more about license requirements, seasons, game species, hunting regulations, public hunting lands, Hunter Education, and hunting skills programs, visit the DGIF website