It's Time to Recruit More Hunters

It's Time to Recruit More Hunters

For hunters, September is the start of our season. The kickoff month to the big show. Of course, there is likely something to hunt somewhere year-round, but

September, for many, marks the real start of the season.

This is especially true for western hunters where elk, bear, antelope, and deer all open up essentially at the same time, making for one hectic month!

best-guns-for-youth-hunters


In the September issue we try to cover the highs (and lows) of the various species in our annual forecast — something we have done for years, giving hunters the straight scoop on what to expect in the coming season.


The good news is that big-game numbers are on the upswing, and as long as crooked politicians don't succeed in "transferring" federal lands to vocal, disgruntled states (disposing of your hunting lands for good), opportunities for DIY hunters on public lands will still be good in 2016.


Stagnation

All that said, we are still seeing stagnation in numbers of hunters. While the last USFW survey showed a slight uptick in license sales, overall the number of hunters hasn't changed very much. Why is this? The answer depends upon whom you ask.

It's lack of opportunity, shifting demographics to a more urban society, a societal pressure against hunting, the high cost to get involved. I'm sure all these answers have validity, but I believe it is much simpler than that. I believe some of the decline is due to laws and regulations being so complicated that most new hunters, youth or adult, have no idea where to begin.


We recently received a letter (published in this issue) asking, "How can one start hunting?" Unfortunately, the answer is not simple: find a local Hunter Education class, sign up for it months in advance, attend several hours of courses, take a test, then go out and buy a license.

That's just to get started.

Where to hunt, how to hunt, how to find public land, how to clean an animal if one is successful, etc., are such complicated topics that I can't imagine jumping into the sport if I didn't have a father to show me the ropes. This all comes back to mentoring — something that is required if we are going to get new hunters involved in the sport.


Mentoring

Luckily, some states have recognized this problem and have actually implemented programs to simplify the process. Fully 35 states have passed legislation or currently offer some sort of mentored hunting program where first-time hunters can delay going through Hunters Ed. provided they are hunting with a licensed hunter.


"To do your part this season, make it a point to find a new hunter and take them out. It is good for the future of our sport, it is necessary for the new hunter'¦"


Essentially, it is a "try before you buy" system that reduces the barriers to entry. Much of the thanks for this push can be attributed to the Families Afield program — a joint partnership between NSSF, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Sportsmen's Alliance that was started in 2004 and to date has brought over one million first-time hunters into the sport.

Some states have taken this mentoring program even further to encourage first-timers to get involved.

Take Idaho, for example: Of all the states that have actually set up some sort of a hunter mentor program, Idaho, in my opinion, has set the gold standard with its Hunting Passport program. In a nutshell, any first-time hunter (over eight years of age) from any state who has never had a hunting license qualifies for it.

You can buy a license for only $1.75 (and tags for non-resident youth can be obtained at resident youth pricing), without any Hunter Education course, with no maximum age (meaning first-time adults are encouraged to participate) as long as you are hunting with a mentor.

new-hunter-recruitment

This is actually putting boots on the ground and getting people involved in our sport, while at the same time teaching the necessary skills required

to be successful when they go on their own.

This program gets people into hunting easily, learning the ropes firsthand from an experienced hunter. If the newbies like the sport, they can then take Hunter Education, buy a license, and head out on their own.

I can't think of a better program to help bolster our ranks, and more states should adopt a similar system. To do your part this season, make it a point to find a new hunter and take them out. It is good for the future of our sport, it is necessary for the new hunter, and more likely than not, it will be enjoyable for you as well.

Recommended for You

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather. Clothing

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size. North America Big Game

How to Field Judge Bears

Jospeh Von Benedikt

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size.

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench. Ammo

Roll Your Own: Best Reloading Supplies

David Draper - April 19, 2019

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have been Shooting

7 Favorite Truck Guns

Joseph von Benedikt - May 11, 2015

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have...

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious marinades. Recipes

8 Best Venison Marinades

Hank Shaw

Follow these basic steps to prepare your meat, then pair it with one of these delicious...

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the Hunting

The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most...

See More Stories

More Stories

 PETA has more high-profile celebrity dollars rolling in these days than the collection plate at Stories

HUNTING's Sexiest Meat Eater 2013

PH Online Editors - July 17, 2013

PETA has more high-profile celebrity dollars rolling in these days than the collection plate...

Seth O'Hara Bellamy's skull art isn't created using lasers or advanced machinery. It's much simpler Stories

Carved in Bone: A Look Inside S.O.B. Skulls

Ben OBrien - November 20, 2014

Seth O'Hara Bellamy's skull art isn't created using lasers or advanced machinery. It's much...

Tough terrain demands the best in conditioning, equipment, and of course a pack full of protein-rich snacks. North America

5 of the Toughest Hunts in North America

Lynn Burkhead

Sponsored By
Jack Link's

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.