A New Approach to Mentored Hunting
While providing hunting opportunities is not new to NWTF chapters, the focus on creating new hunters outside our typical approach might be.
A recent survey that examined nearly 40 national programs, including JAKES, Women in the Outdoors, and Wheelin’ Sportsmen, identified successful hunting, shooting and fishing recruitment and retention strategies. The study also uncovered a few important details that will serve us well as we work to create 1.5 million new hunters.
The large majority of program participants came from hunting, shooting, and/or fishing families and had hunted before participating in the program. The good news is we are doing a good job at retaining hunters; however, the study highlights the need to recruit outside our typical areas of influence.
Many of you have already begun to structure chapter activities through the filter of our new initiative—Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. This focus has created new hunting opportunities that look different than they have in the past.
Chapters are hosting various mentored hunts designated for first-time hunters regardless of age and gender. Family mentored hunts are taking off and while we previously focused on youth and the hunt, we are now drawing the non-hunting parent/guardian into the hunting fold just by the extraordinary experience of the hunt. Many parents leave surprised at the enjoyment they experienced from the hunt and seek to continue the hunting sport. No doubt, we are doing our part to leave a hunting legacy for families near and far.
While we are creating these opportunities for soon-to-be-hunters, we are also creating a new generation of mentors in the process. Volunteers are rising to the challenge and not only mentoring but seeking to take it to the next level by becoming certified hunter education instructors. Hunter education classes are a great place to identify new hunters and provide them with the important next step—a hunting experience.
A recent study from National Shooting Sports Foundation found that only 67.7% of hunter education graduates purchased a hunting license. And six years after the course, only 44% of graduates bought a hunting license. There is a clear need to help those interested in hunting become active hunters.
State and federal wildlife agencies across the country have continued to partner with local and state chapters on these efforts. They have a vested interest in NWTF’s new initiative and as we successfully boost the number of avid hunters, state conservation funding will increase across the country.
NWTF has the best volunteers around—passionate, hard-working, and dedicated men, women, and youth. We started off strong and have only just begun. We stand at the threshold of amazing opportunities and are making a difference - one new hunter at a time.