Give the Gift of the Outdoors this Holiday Season

Whether it’s the influx of family and friends coming into town, the Christmas party at the office or the numerous dinner get-togethers you’ll be attending well into the New Year, chances are you’ll be spending time with folks who have never been hunting or even shooting. The holidays are a great opportunity to spark someone’s interest in the outdoors. Here are a few suggestions for recruiting new hunters and conservationists this holiday season.

Wild Game

Whether you’re hosting family and friends or bringing a dish elsewhere, skip the store-bought appetizers and bring a wild game delicacy. Most people who have never had wild game are often reluctant to try it because of the misconception that all game dishes are “gamey.”

If you can wow a nonhunter with your wild game dish, that could be just the nudge they needed to get afield. Refrain from bringing something that might put a bad taste in their mouth (no pun intended) and bring something relatable. Here are a few finger-food suggestions that even the pickiest eaters will find tempting:

  • Venison Sliders
  • Pulled Wild Boar Nachos
  • Wild Turkey Buffalo Dip
  • Venison Chili
  • Dove Poppers
  • Fried Wild Turkey Bites 

Visit NWTF’s How to Host a Wild Game Dinner for more information.

Discuss the Benefits of Procuring Game Meat

As hunters, we know that wild game is a healthy and rewarding alternative to many of the store-bought counterparts, but many nonhunters are unaware of the greater implications that come with procuring your own meat.

Here are some areas of discussion that might just be the turning point that nonhunter needed to get outdoors:

  • Make the endeavor less about sport and more about being immersed in nature and acquiring food.
  • Wild game is healthy. Wild game is leaner than store-bought meats and provides more nutritional value. Learn more here.
  • Putting game in the freezer is sustainable. We throw food into our shopping carts without realizing all that went into it being wrapped in plastic and on display at the grocery store. Hunting is a way to cut out the middle man and any wonder about where your food has been.
  • Procuring wild game is rewarding. Increasingly, Americans are wanting to be involved with the story of their food, whether it’s growing it themselves or buying it from a local farmer down the road. Hunting is a great way to connect folks with their food that is rewarding. Learn how the Locavore Movement is a great opportunity for recruiting new hunters.

Take Someone Hunting or Fishing  

Be it friends and family in town for the season, or whether you have a little extra time off of work, the holidays offer great opportunities that coincide with hunting seasons and usually a little extra free time.

Even if the person you intend on inviting has never shown any interest in the outdoors, simply inviting someone to go afield with you doesn’t hurt. At best, you created a new hunter and conservationist. At worst, more ducks to put in your freezer.

Do not rule out fishing either. Fishing is a great entry point into the outdoors for the novice. Be it fly fishing, ice fishing or simply a worm on a spinning rod, that time spent outdoors could be just the ticket to getting a nonhunter afield next season.

Go Sport Shooting

Going straight to hunting might be intimidating for some, especially if they are not versed with firearms. Taking someone to the local sporting clays and trap course could be a great foot in the door.

Most shooting courses have pro staff who are great with beginners and can get them breaking clays with just a few quick pointers. If you’re in or near South Carolina, consider visiting the NWTF’s premiere Palmetto Shooting Complex.

Take Them Scouting

Scouting can be an eye-opening experience for a nonhunter. Most nonhunters probably do not know about all the time spent hiking, looking for scrapes and tracks, and just being immersed in nature. If you can take them on a hike and show them why and where deer scrape, turkeys roost or ducks feed, it could provide them a whole new way to view the woods.

Discuss Conservation

I would boldly (yet anecdotally) state that the vast majority of the American public is unaware of how hunting and wildlife conservation are intrinsically linked. There’s no sense in getting into the weeds of the exact funding mechanism, but if you can explain that the excise tax on firearms and ammunition goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and then to state natural resource agencies for conservation efforts, then you pretty much got the gist of it. Moreover, hunters who purchase licenses, tags and stamps raise crucial funds for wildlife conservation.

Another great point to add to this discussion is all the great work nonprofits, like the NWTF, accomplish for conservation.

For more on how hunters and shooters fund wildlife conservation, visit the Wildlife Restoration Act.  

No matter how you try to introduce someone into our ranks this holiday season, remember to be kind, considerate and open-minded. Even if they don’t want to go afield right away or try your smoked venison, the best thing you can do is portray hunting and the outdoors pursuits in a positive light. You never know, just one thing you say could plant a seed for someone to become a lifelong hunter and conservationist. Have fun. Be safe. And Happy Holidays!

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