Many locavore hunting programs (most notably those in the Eastern and Midwestern states) hold their actual deer hunts during special seasons, outside of the normal deer season. This scenario is recommended, if possible.
The biggest advantage for holding the hunt outside of the normal season is that you will likely have more mentors and guides available to assist you. Holding a hunt during the regular deer season cuts into the time that mentors and guides have to hunt with their own family and friends, and therefore, they are more likely to opt out of requests for assistance from your program.
Creating special seasons specifically for new hunters may also allow access to land that may not otherwise be available. The land you may hunting during a special season may already be hunted by a group of hunters during the regular season who would not want the additional hunting pressure while they are hunting. Or, in other cases the land may closed during the regular season.
Creating “management” seasons in parks, or other lands, and setting them aside for new hunters can help your agency achieve both management objectives and help with recruiting new hunters. These seasons do not necessarily have to be before the regular season.
In some situations, crossbows have been used rather than firearms. In other situations, crossbows will be used as part of future deer hunting programs.
Tempering participant expectations about harvesting a deer is important, particularly if special seasons are utilized. Low harvest rates are typically the norm during class sponsored hunting sessions.
Note that this module has been developed primarily with a focus on firearm deer hunting. As noted earlier, in some situations, crossbows and muzzleloaders have been used for deer hunting. Deer hunting tends to have greatest interest for this target audience because of the amount of high-quality meat obtained from a deer. However, in some programs, participants hunted turkeys during the spring and/or small game in the fall.
In any event, we encourage you to adapt this module for other species and methods, and share your experiences with others in the R3 community.