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By Michael Byrne - September, 2014

Most hunters follow a lineage of hunting tradition, where valuable knowledge is handed down through the generations, but there are some who have the desire to delve into hunting but do not hail from a hunting family, so seeking sound, time tested advice can prove to be elusive. There is a growing number of hunters on the island who are taking on the roll of mentor in order to keep the sport flourishing for future generations to enjoy. They are working toward a common goal of bringing junior bow hunters into the sport with the mindset of pursuing big game through good ethics, honesty, integrity and accountability.

In the midst of what most would consider the last weekend of Summer, a few gathered for the first annual bow hunting educational seminar hosted by seasoned white tail hunter, Thomas Lucien Goettelmann, at the DEC Ridge hunter check station.  It is no secret that whitetail deer hunting has one of the steepest learning curves to master....add a compound bow into the mix and the curve becomes the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest to the greenhorn hunter. The amount of knowledge and preparation can be daunting for beginners to absorb.  Even old salty veterans get schooled occasionally during the season. It is this learning curve that molds the novice into a seasoned pro. It is after all a game of wits and only the smartest will emerge victorious. It is the difference between eating tender back strap or chomping down on a “tag sandwich” when the season has ended!

Goettelmann has been hunting whitetail since 1990 and has been bow hunting since 1993. He is a first generation hunter and explains he made plenty of mistakes when he first started out, but through trial and error the odds began to shift in his favor. Like most junior hunters, he sought advice from mentors who took him in and showed him the ropes, corrected his mistakes and filled his cup with new knowledge. He explained, “every season I expand on that knowledge. I am forever learning something new”. He is inspired by teaching others and gleans great satisfaction from paying it forward. Goettelmann exclaimed, “I have been in their shoes, I know what it is like to set out into the unknown as a novice deer hunter”. Like so many hunters, he is drawn to the challenge and scoffs at those who tell him he “can’t do something”. He soaks in every experience and learns from every woodland encounter.

deer hunting gearThe learning curve does not encompass only stalking game, a lot of it is in the prep and planning. Many inexperienced hunters are inundated with products on the market and are unsure of what is essential gear and how to use it. Goettelmann went over the basics of what every hunter should have in his/her possession, the importance of tree stand safety and how to properly use a climber. His advice to new hunters is – “know you gear, before you set out on the hunt”. This way if you encounter any problems in the field, you know how to correct them.
After a brief gear demo, participants proceeded into the woods for some instruction on locating deer signs, ie: run trials, tracks, scrapes and rubs, identifying droppings and how to distinguish the difference between a turkey scrape and a deer scrape. Goettelmann explained how to correctly identify a food source, bedding areas and to be mindful of property boundaries.
Our junior hunters are our successors. Like a finely manicured Bonsi tree, they need tending, shaping and molding if they are to become true ethical and smart hunters. Without mentors, their skillsets will be filled with short falls, they will seek the easy way and sometimes unethical way in pursuit of big game. It is encouraging to see hunters volunteering their time by stepping to the plate and making a difference in how our future generation views hunting and what their responsibility will be as stewards of the land.
There are facebook forums dedicated to hunters in our area where novice Long Island hunters can reach out for sound advice. For more information, please visit:

Long Island Deer Hunters
Long Island Hunting Mentors
Hunters for Deer
Long Island Waterfowl Hunters
Long Island Turkey Hunters
Long Island Small Game Hunting





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