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You Can Host a "Hunter Creation" Event

When the NWTF rolled out our new initiative, Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt., we welcomed the challenge. Impacting so much habitat — more than 4 million acres %#8212; while creating 1.5 million new hunters with an additional 500,000 new acres open to public hunting was in the wheelhouse of our volunteers, staff and partners. These are goals we can rally behind.

Although we celebrated the challenge, the totality of it soon began to sink in. The numbers alone seemed overwhelming, coupled with a timeline of 10 years. Many of us were scratching our heads, realizing we did not say create new outdoorspeople, hikers, campers, birders or even shooters. We said new hunters.

For me, it starts with a bit of reflection. How did I become a hunter? Many of us were introduced to hunting at an early age, because our families have established hunting traditions. Others may have learned later in life from a friend willing to share. Each of us has a different story of how we came to hunt, but most involves a social aspect — people sharing a common experience.

NWTF chapters supply the social aspect of hunting by hosting events that provide a friendly and nurturing environment that welcomes new members and future hunters. But is that enough to create new hunters? Our events have to go beyond an introduction to the shooting sports if we are going to succeed.

We have to be willing to follow through with each of the hunter creation steps — introduction, education, engagement and then a positive hunting experience.

Understanding the process of individual hunter creation provides the guidance we need to create new hunters in the next 10 years. Since new hunters are created one hunter at a time, this is truly a chapter level mission.

I have no doubt our chapters and volunteers will reach our goal, but we have to rethink our outreach emphasis and how to retool or even totally revamp our events to create new hunters. NWTF chapters have excelled at the introductory phase. Our JAKES Take Aim program is a great example.

Here’s an example of how the Kansas First Upland Pioneers Chapter revamped its existing Women in the Outdoors event to make sure it included hunting. Read some of the testimonies from participants and you’ll see how they succeeded in creating hunters in a single day.

It’s proof of what can happen when volunteers use Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. as a filter to evaluate chapter activity. – Steve Barlow



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