The DNR’s Jaime Cook oversees the “Field to Fork” program. “It’s a program designed for adults who have very little or no hunting experience to get a chance to get out and try it in the field,” he explains. You are taught how to use a compound bow to hunt deer and are also taught how to dress the deer and prepare the meat to put in your freezer.
Cook says the shows on TV make it seem like a simple thing to do. “Looks can be very deceiving, you can watch a ten-minute YouTube video and feel like you are ready to take it on,” Cook says. “I am relatively new to deer hunting myself — just been hunting about five years — you know it’s tiresome by the time you get your animal down, you find it you trail it and then you start to field dress it.”
He says the course takes you through the whole process with experts. “As we approach the fall they are going to have some study at-home lessons, we’ll be providing some printed material as well as some online video supplements,” according to Cook. “They’ll all need to make sure they have hunter education requirements satisfied her in the state as well. We’ll have some online zoom meetings or video chats to have some Q&A as well.”
The DNR will also provide some in-person instruction on how to best prepare the venison for storage and eating. “We will have someone on hand that will walk them through how to field dress, how to butcher, how to prepare their meet for freezer storage, and then we are going to be working with a local chef,” Cook says.
He says the idea is to get more people into hunting and also fill the need for those who want to bring home their own meat.
“Quite the freezer filler I should say in terms of being able to go out and do it yourself. And that’s also a bit thing, people are really concerned about where their meat comes from these days and they want to have an active part in procuring it and bringing it home,” Cook says.
The Ames classes for the Field to Fork program have already filled, but they are accepting applications for Waterloo classes. The program is limited to ten people at each site, and you can learn more details online or fill out an application at IowaDNR.gov.