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Faces of Conservation

Hunters: Our Partners in Conservation


 For many, hunting is a traditional part of family and community life, passed on through generations. New Jersey native Rich Gehring knows the value of tradition well; he comes from a long line of avid outdoorsmen. Inspired by his father and uncle, Rich has been hunting since his early teens.

Today, Rich and his son Wyatt hunt white-tailed deer at the Conservancy’s Muckshaw Ponds Preserve in Sussex County. “I’ve been hunting Muckshaw long before the Conservancy owned it,” says Rich. I love being outside, it gives me a chance to enjoy the simpler side of life.”

Managed hunting helps maintain forest health, preventing deer populations from growing beyond the ability of natural communities to sustain them, quickly damaging the forests we all depend upon. “A managed hunt program protects forest health by keeping deer numbers at a reasonable level,” says Conservancy land steward Scott Sherwood. “The Conservancy’s data analysis shows that the program continues to keep deer at a healthy level,” says Scott. “At the same time, sportsmen who grew up hunting Muckshaw are able to pass down the tradition to future generations.”

The sportsmen of New Jersey partner with The Nature Conservancy to protect our lands and waters for the benefit of people and nature. Leasing hunting rights to sportsmen provides indispensable stewardship support; hunters provide hundreds of hours of volunteer work each year.

“Hunters like Rich help us manage our lands more efficiently,” says Scott. “They are our partners in conservation, not just by regulating deer population by hunting, but by participating in projects that remove invasive plants, build kiosks and benches, clear trails, clean dump sites and plant native trees.”

“To be able to enjoy something you have to invest in it,” says Rich. “I’m not sure why they’re called workdays because it doesn’t feel much like work. We enjoy ourselves and take pride in caring for the preserve.”

Rich believes the workdays have inspired his son. “He’s learned just how important it is to protect special places like Muckshaw,” says Rich.

Learn More About Hunting on Conservancy Preserves in New Jersey

Hunters and conservationists have a long history of alliance and shared interest: protecting habitat for game also means protecting ecosystems. Our organization is membership-based and dependent on donations for a large portion of our operating budget. We would greatly appreciate your membership to The Conservancy in support of our mission and our efforts to provide hunters with increased hunting opportunities at no charge.

Please join The Nature Conservancy and sign up today – we value the support of the hunting community

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