How Delta Waterfowl Introduced Me to Hunting

Taking part in Delta Waterfowl’s University Hunting Program in fall 2022 was one of my most memorable experiences at Cornell University, where I’m a senior studying animal science with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. I was interested in hunting but hadn’t ever done it until I took Delta’s course, which was coordinated by Cornell professor Orin Robinson.

I loved it!

Matt Kneisley, Delta regional director, Tommy Reed, South Central New York Delta Chapter chair, and the rest of the SCNY chapter helped me start my waterfowl hunting journey. Through Delta’s UHP, they taught me that hunting is way more than just pulling the trigger. Instead, days of preparations go into the hunt, from scouting fields for bird migration to prepping gear. I learned that the hunt itself was only a small portion of it.

How Delta Waterfowl Introduced Me to Hunting

The UHP course at Cornell, which is open to students in wildlife management and related majors, was spread out over two days. The first day consisted of hunter education, gun safety, and practicing shooting clays, while also getting comfortable handling a gun. Everyone was fitted to a gun, and we practiced shooting out of the blinds. I borrowed one of Kneisley’s 12-gauge shotguns to use at the range and during the hunt.

The next day was the big day — the hunt. We set up an A-frame blind and were shown how to lay out a spread of decoys.


Canada geese were flying the entire morning, but they did not want to land in our decoys. So, we altered the spread in hopes geese would find it more inviting. Finally, a flock of about 15 birds decided to come in. It was so exciting.

Once we saw cupped wings and feet hanging, Reed yelled, “Drop ‘em!”

How Delta Waterfowl Introduced Me to Hunting

Everyone started firing. The bird I was swinging on fell, and I ended up harvesting my first goose. All of our mentors had the biggest smiles on their faces when the birds dropped. They were all so supportive and beyond happy that the hunt was a success. 

Our group harvested three Canada geese during the hunt. We went back to Reed’s house where our mentors showed us how to field dress the birds and cook the meat.

I truly have been addicted to hunting ever since! I have spent more time in a blind this year than I would be willing to admit.

I am also now actively involved in Delta Waterfowl as a chapter committee member. This year, I assisted in mentoring at the UHP hunt and helped this year’s students harvest 30 birds. Seeing other students have the same experience is even better than hunting myself. Delta Waterfowl has helped create so many new hunters and shown these college students there is family associated with waterfowl hunting.

Within my first year as a hunter, I have also harvested my first deer and turkey. I’m also in the process of training my own black Lab, Oakley, to be a duck dog.
Within my first year as a hunter, I have also harvested my first deer and turkey. I’m also in the process of training my own black Lab, Oakley, to be a duck dog.

Without participating in Delta’s UHP hunt, I don’t believe I would have gotten into hunting as much as I did this year. 

Delta Waterfowl has been the most supportive group of men and women. I cannot thank them enough. It’s truly a family. Without my friends at Delta Waterfowl creating such a memorable first hunt through the University Hunting Program, I would have never been inspired to continue hunting and would have missed out on creating my best memories in the blind.

About Delta Waterfowl: A leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation since 1911, Delta Waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization, with a mission to produce ducks and ensure the future of waterfowl hunting. Delta’s University Hunting Program aims to teach college students studying wildlife management and related majors about the important role hunting plays in conservation while also serving to recruit the students as hunters. During the 2023-2024 academic year, Delta delivered UHP at 103 universities throughout North America. Visit their web site at



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