It's Time to Recruit More Hunters

It's Time to Recruit More Hunters

For hunters, September is the start of our season. The kickoff month to the big show. Of course, there is likely something to hunt somewhere year-round, but


September, for many, marks the real start of the season.

This is especially true for western hunters where elk, bear, antelope, and deer all open up essentially at the same time, making for one hectic month!


best-guns-for-youth-hunters


In the September issue we try to cover the highs (and lows) of the various species in our annual forecast — something we have done for years, giving hunters the straight scoop on what to expect in the coming season.

The good news is that big-game numbers are on the upswing, and as long as crooked politicians don't succeed in "transferring" federal lands to vocal, disgruntled states (disposing of your hunting lands for good), opportunities for DIY hunters on public lands will still be good in 2016.

Stagnation

All that said, we are still seeing stagnation in numbers of hunters. While the last USFW survey showed a slight uptick in license sales, overall the number of hunters hasn't changed very much. Why is this? The answer depends upon whom you ask.

It's lack of opportunity, shifting demographics to a more urban society, a societal pressure against hunting, the high cost to get involved. I'm sure all these answers have validity, but I believe it is much simpler than that. I believe some of the decline is due to laws and regulations being so complicated that most new hunters, youth or adult, have no idea where to begin.

We recently received a letter (published in this issue) asking, "How can one start hunting?" Unfortunately, the answer is not simple: find a local Hunter Education class, sign up for it months in advance, attend several hours of courses, take a test, then go out and buy a license.

That's just to get started.

Where to hunt, how to hunt, how to find public land, how to clean an animal if one is successful, etc., are such complicated topics that I can't imagine jumping into the sport if I didn't have a father to show me the ropes. This all comes back to mentoring — something that is required if we are going to get new hunters involved in the sport.

Mentoring

Luckily, some states have recognized this problem and have actually implemented programs to simplify the process. Fully 35 states have passed legislation or currently offer some sort of mentored hunting program where first-time hunters can delay going through Hunters Ed. provided they are hunting with a licensed hunter.


"To do your part this season, make it a point to find a new hunter and take them out. It is good for the future of our sport, it is necessary for the new hunter'¦"


Essentially, it is a "try before you buy" system that reduces the barriers to entry. Much of the thanks for this push can be attributed to the Families Afield program — a joint partnership between NSSF, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Sportsmen's Alliance that was started in 2004 and to date has brought over one million first-time hunters into the sport.

Some states have taken this mentoring program even further to encourage first-timers to get involved.

Take Idaho, for example: Of all the states that have actually set up some sort of a hunter mentor program, Idaho, in my opinion, has set the gold standard with its Hunting Passport program. In a nutshell, any first-time hunter (over eight years of age) from any state who has never had a hunting license qualifies for it.

You can buy a license for only $1.75 (and tags for non-resident youth can be obtained at resident youth pricing), without any Hunter Education course, with no maximum age (meaning first-time adults are encouraged to participate) as long as you are hunting with a mentor.

new-hunter-recruitment

This is actually putting boots on the ground and getting people involved in our sport, while at the same time teaching the necessary skills required

to be successful when they go on their own.

This program gets people into hunting easily, learning the ropes firsthand from an experienced hunter. If the newbies like the sport, they can then take Hunter Education, buy a license, and head out on their own.

I can't think of a better program to help bolster our ranks, and more states should adopt a similar system. To do your part this season, make it a point to find a new hunter and take them out. It is good for the future of our sport, it is necessary for the new hunter, and more likely than not, it will be enjoyable for you as well.

Recommended for You

SHOT Show

HUNTING's Booth Babes of SHOT Show 2014

David Draper - January 21, 2014

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention

North America

Bear Hunting Makes Quebec the Ultimate Springtime Destination

Lynn Burkhead - February 01, 2019

Hunting in Quebec offers plenty of quality outfitters, affordable hunting options, great...

Optics

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Quality at the Right Price

Joe Arterburn - May 28, 2019

Sponsored By
Steiner

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Hunting

The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff - May 11, 2015

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most...

North America

5 Great Last-Minute Public-land Hunts

Joseph von Benedikt - October 16, 2017

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can still make a 2017 mule deer hunt. According to...

North America

Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States

Joseph von Benedikt - December 18, 2017

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the...

See More Stories

More Stories

Stories

HUNTING's Sexiest Meat Eater 2013

PH Online Editors - July 17, 2013

PETA has more high-profile celebrity dollars rolling in these days than the collection plate...

Stories

Illegal Hunters Rescued by Wildlife Agents, Win 'Little Help?' Award

PH Online Editors - December 12, 2013

Choosing to break game laws is bad enough in itself. Having to call for help from the people...

Stories

Redneck Bonfire Really Lights Up a Party

Awesome Rednecks - September 16, 2013

Is there any fall activity more enjoyable than a good ole' bonfire? Just imagining gathering...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×