Guided fishing in Southwest Philadelphia

Written by Haley Phillips

“Guided fishing” isn’t a phrase you’d expect to hear in Philadelphia. Nor “color hunters”. Which is exactly why the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum provides archery deer hunting every year.

Although Mentored Archery Hunt is open to all people 12 and older, it prioritizes applicants from Southwest Philadelphia and systematically excluded groups. With support from the Philadelphia Gaming Commission (PGC), research is free and all equipment is provided. Participants learn the basics of hunting and deer biology during the orientation and the guide assists the participants throughout the hunting process.

Besides skills, participants also withdraw with a new community. To celebrate this, this year participants and staff came together after foraging to share experiences and food while eating. Highlights included the return of a former apprentice to work as a mentor and a teenager harvesting his first deer with this father as their mentor.

As a trainee working with PGC, I tried hunting for the first time this year and had to work through the various reasons to look for myself or not to hunt myself. After learning more about how hunting can be a conservation tool, I realized that it is a more sustainable and ethical way to consume meat. Being a woman of color, I’m not your average demographic, but I felt welcome, learned a lot, and had a great experience.

A lot of people decide to look up why I’m doing this. Others are vehemently opposed to it. Shelter manager Lamar Gore leans into this, dealing with protesters in person and online. In these talks, people are asked to think about how to manage deer populations to reduce vehicle collisions (something community members frequently call refuge) and disease spread in herds while improving the health of the forest for all the other plants and animals that depend on it.

The lottery application window is open from August 1Street to 31st, 2022. For more information, email Garrett at [email protected]

Heinz staff will also be available at pop-up shooting events to answer questions about guided hunting. Check out our summer calendar in this issue for when your next shooting event is!

Written by Haley Phillips, a Philadelphia Gaming Commission intern who works for John Heinz NWR in the Tinicum and Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

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