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.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cheeseburger Poppers

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

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!

Trending Articles

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

The Top 10 trophy whitetail states featured here are the best of the best in terms of B&C entries over the past ten years. North America

Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States

Joseph von Benedikt - December 18, 2017

The Top 10 trophy whitetail states featured here are the best of the best in terms of B&C...

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 people

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great black North America

Best States To Hunt For Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

What is the biggest driver of anti-hunting propaganda in recent years? HSUS? PETA? WWF? All good Stories

Protecting Our Image in the Digital Age

Mike Schoby - July 01, 2016

What is the biggest driver of anti-hunting propaganda in recent years? HSUS? PETA? WWF? All...

Elephants are one of the mostly widely persecuted animals on earth. And while poaching across the Stories

7 Elephant Facts You've Never Heard Of

Craig Boddington - December 29, 2015

Elephants are one of the mostly widely persecuted animals on earth. And while poaching across...

These outdoor jobs sound like the dream, but they're not all glamorous. Stories

10 So-Called Dream Jobs vs. Harsh Reality

David Draper

These outdoor jobs sound like the dream, but they're not all glamorous.

 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...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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