“Be the mentor you needed when you first started hunting,” said Cristina McGannon Jones of Oxford, New Jersey. Cristina presented tips and advice for making the most out of a mentored hunt at NWTF’s Annual Convention and Sport Show during its National Leadership Conference.
Cristina started her presentation by telling the room full of NWTF members, volunteers and staff her story as an adult onset hunter and used her unique experience as a reference point for recruiting individuals whom are new to hunting.
“Start small,” Cristina said. Small hunts, Cristina suggested, are just as meaningful and impactful as a large hunt. Cristina backed this up by discussing a JAKES mentored hunt that only had three participants, but the three new hunters were retained and became mentors themselves. “Small hunts are just as important.”
“Promote your hunt everywhere,” Cristina said. Promoting your hunt on every social media platform, local news outlets, at banquets and on flyers will increase participation. While this seems obvious, Cristina pointed out that promoting mentored hunts everywhere possible is crucial to reaching a wider audience.
Cristina also recommended that, if projects are not resonating with a chapter’s local audience, then to never give up. “Keep retailoring your hunts until you find what your audience likes.”
Strong partnerships, Cristina also highlighted, are instrumental to making more out of a mentored hunt, whether it be with state parks, national wildlife refuges or other conservation organizations. Partnerships allow local NWTF chapters to leverage additional funds and provide areas for enriching hunts that otherwise would not exist were it not for partnership.
“When you get new hunters to attend your workshops, make sure you provide hunting essentials and information,” said Cristina. This includes everything from weapon safety to cleaning an animal properly to hunting tools to the willingness to answer any and all questions.