Recruitment and succession
As the days continue to get longer and warmer and spring gives way to early summer, signs of the success of this year’s recruitment to the flocks and herds around us are starting to become apparent. The wood duck pair swimming away up a stream trailed by a long string of fuzzballs or the number of does at the edge of the field watching over twin fawns are sure signs of a good spring. But for the turkey hunter, the best indicators of a good recruitment year are the hens with large broods that are becoming evident across the land scape. Good recruitment is the first step in sustaining a growing and healthy flock for the future.
However, while strong recruitment is important and vital, it’s only the first step to sustainability and growth of the flock. To take the next step, the adult birds — those with a few winters behind them — will spend the next months not only looking out for themselves but, more importantly, focusing primarily on mentoring, teaching and protecting the new arrivals. They instinctively know that without that attention, many poults won’t survive. They also know that in order for the flock to survive and thrive, they must put the interests and comfort of the newcomers ahead of their own, communicate on a level where the poults are most comfortable, and ultimately teach them to do the same for the next generation. The retention and success of this recruitment class is key to succession in a strong flock.
Just as a strong recruiting year is important to growing and maintaining viable populations of wild turkeys and other wildlife, the same is true for hunters, anglers and organizations like the NWTF. And based on recently released data on hunting and fishing license sales, 2020 was a banner year for recruitment into this lifestyle that we all cherish.
Nationwide in 2020, fishing license sales increased 13.5% over 2019, and hunting licenses were up 5% from the previous year. More importantly when it comes to the recruitment of new folks to our flock, first-time fishing license purchases were up 38%, with first-time hunting license sales gaining 26%, and both seeing a 48% increase in first-time sales to women.
The NWTF and other organizations like ours have indeed been blessed with a strong recruiting class. Many new folks have expressed, through their willingness to purchase licenses, a desire to join and embrace our lifestyle. If we are willing to adopt a few lessons from the turkeys, we can also take the next step toward sustainability and real growth. By welcoming, communicating with, and engaging these newcomers at levels where they are comfortable and respond — even if that may not be what we’re used to — we will enthuse and engage them in our mission. We will have seized a golden opportunity to turn recruitment into growth and strengthen our organization.
Most importantly, we will be ensuring NWTF’s succession, success and relevance well into the future!