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Delta Waterfowl’s University Hunting Program is Flourishing for Wildlife Students
BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Delta’s University Hunting Program, which had its genesis at Louisiana State University in the late-1990s when Dr. Frank Rohwer organized hunts for his wildlife students, has grown exponentially since becoming a formal Delta program in 2017.
Many of today’s wildlife management students do not come from families with hunting backgrounds. UHP introduces these future wildlife management professionals to waterfowl hunting so they understand the important role it plays in conservation. In addition, UHP aims to recruit students to become lifelong waterfowl hunters who will introduce their families and friends to our world.
In 2021, Delta held UHP events at 36 universities with 222 students despite COVID-19 challenges. The program doubled in 2022, with 415 students from 72 universities taking part throughout North America.
“We met all of our UHP goals for 2022,” said Jacob Bushaw, Delta’s R3 coordinator for the United States. “We had great events at so many universities, including Cornell University, Ohio State University, and the University of Florida. We had 20 wildlife students at the Florida UHP, and most of them had never held a gun before that event.”
Aidan Flores, Delta’s R3 coordinator for New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas, reported that 16 universities in the region took part in UHP, and he hopes to add eight more in 2023.
In Canada, 87 students at 11 colleges/universities participated in UHP, according to Alan Cattrysse, Delta’s R3 coordinator for Canada. COVID-19 restrictions delayed the hunting portion of UHP at three universities in fall 2022, but all of the Canadian students will have an opportunity to go on a mentored hunt in fall 2023 to complete the program.
Participant surveys revealed excellent program success, with 92 percent of students indicating they plan to continue hunting, according to Bushaw. In addition, students rated Delta’s UHP 4.8 on a 1-to-5 scale.
“This program is incredible, and does a great job at introducing people to hunting,” said Aida Bagheri Hamaneh, a UHP student participant from Virginia Tech. “It makes duck hunting seem way more accessible and attainable for someone like me who has no background in hunting or social connections to duck hunters.”
Delta’s comprehensive UHP takes participants through hunter safety, shooting skills, a mentored hunt, field dressing birds and a post-hunt meal.
“I enjoyed every second of the program, and genuinely have come away with such an enjoyment for waterfowl that I’ve decided to focus on it as I continue my college career,” said Rylee Abbott, a wildlife student from the University of Tennessee–Martin.
Delta projects the rapid growth of UHP will continue in 2023, with a goal of 100 universities participating during the academic year.
“The interest in Delta’s UHP is high because wildlife professors across North America have seen a dramatic shift toward students without a hunting background,” said Joel Brice, chief conservation officer for Delta Waterfowl. “Our UHP program fills an important need for universities to educate future wildlife management professionals about hunting.”
Delta Waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and secure the future of waterfowl hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.
For more information about Delta’s University Hunting Program, contact Jacob Bushaw at [email protected], Aidan Flores at [email protected], or Alan Cattrysse at [email protected].
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