Folks in the outdoor industry have been putting a lot of time and effort into the recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters (R3 for short). With the hunting population making up an ever smaller percentage of the national population (somewhere under 10% now), it is important for state fish and wildlife agencies (who depend greatly on license sales to be able fulfill their mission) and companies who cater to the hunting and fishing crowd to find out what it takes to make a new hunter.
The Wildlife Management Institute has been looking into this question and, with the help of many outdoor industry folks, have come up with the Hunter Adoption Model (shown below) to serve as a discussion/analysis tool when looking at R3 programs.
Discussions with many of those who are studying how to increase outdoor participation has highlighted the fact that most efforts focus on the early part of the Adoption Model, providing one-day events that help with generating Awareness and Interest and might get into the Trial stage. But most stop at that point. Folks are realizing that these one-day events, while great at creating Interest and Awareness, aren't moving the needle when we look at what it takes to bring new hunters into the fold.
Few programs address taking a new hunter from the point where their interest and awareness and experience has led them to want to be a hunter and they are confident enough in their skills to be able to go on their own. In the past, one might rely on family members to fill this gap. Dad, uncles and granddads would take youths hunting and fishing, passing on their love for the great outdoors. Today, with so many single parent households, that isn’t happening for too many youths.
That’s where Outdoor Mentoring is Key! Outdoor Mentoring provides the new hunter with a Mentor who fills that void. For many new hunters, they are going to need to repeat the trial stage a number of times. They’ll need to have someone take them upland hunting, waterfowl hunting, dove hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting and/or varmint hunting. They need someone, an Outdoor Mentor, who will give them the opportunity to find their place in our hunting community.
Not everyone (me included) relishes spending a day in a tree stand. I would much rather spend time behind a ranging pointer chasing upland birds. Or maybe they prefer the thrill of watching ducks settle into a decoy spread. Or maybe they do like sitting in that tree stand, being a part of nature and watching it in all of its splendor. But they have to get out there and experience the hunt to find their place!
And that’s where you come in! It takes you stepping up and mentoring a new hunter. State fish and wildlife agencies can’t make it happen. NGO’s like Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation can’t make it happen. They can help by raising the awareness of this need. But they can’t spend time with individual new hunters, giving them time in field to find their way.
It takes you!
Please consider becoming an Outdoor Mentor today. There are thousands of children all across the country who would jump at the chance to have you take them hunting and fishing. Give us a call at 316-290-8883 and we’ll help you get started. Be the one who helps a new hunter find his way in the great outdoors!
And please make a generous donation so that we can continue to recruit more mentors and get more kids outdoors, hunting and fishing!