Hunter recruitment

Discussion in 'Political Action Forum' started by KENNEDY63, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. KENNEDY63

    KENNEDY63 Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 10, 2005
    Interesting piece.

    Put Down the Kombucha and Pick Up a Crossbow: Hipsters Are the New Hunters
    Want organic, sustainable meat? Kill it yourself, say veteran hunters trying to appeal to the next generation of recruits to keep the sport alive

    By Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson
    Jan. 9, 2019 11:55 a.m. ET

    BOGART, Ga.—A group of veteran hunters set out last month in a forest northeast of Atlanta with apprentices. Among them, a former vegetarian, a Haitian-born grad student and a farmers-market manager. They wore camouflage and carried crossbows.

    They were aiming to kill white-tailed deer. But the real target: new hunters.


    The number of Americans 16 and older who hunt is down 18% from two decades ago, according to federal data. An older generation of hunters is trying to lure recruits to the sport by pitching it as a good way to ensure meat is local, sustainable and probably organic.

    “Earthy crunchy aligns very well with deer hunting,” says Charles Evans, 29, who works in hunter recruitment for the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

    The December hunt, aimed at relative newbies, was organized by Field to Fork, a project started in 2016 by a 60,000-member national hunting group. The project locates its human targets at places such as a farmers market in Athens, Ga., where it provides samples of venison.

    The trainees use crossbows, which are quieter than guns and let them train and hunt on properties closer to civilization. For some first-time hunters, the equipment is more palatable than firearms—though most rifles can shoot farther.

    Frank Kennedy Jr., 25, on the hunt from nearby Winder, Ga., says he joined the program because he wanted to “eat food where I knew where it came from” but found hunting “intimidating from the get-go.” Now he regularly goes out to the forest to hunt.

    Once a staple of American life, hunting has declined as the percentage of people living in rural areas shrinks and fewer people have the time or need for a pastime requiring patience and the willingness to kill an animal.

    There aren’t enough interested people to replace those over 45 who make up the bulk of active hunters, says Loren Chase, a former Arizona Game and Fish Department official who heads a statistical consulting firm specializing in natural resources.

    “It will be a slow gradual trend downward,” he says, “that will begin to steepen after 2035.”

    Doug Brames, a 52-year-old Florida marketing executive, learned to hunt from his father and grandfather in rural Indiana but had trouble teaching his two sons while raising them in suburban Michigan and Arkansas.

    Instead of expressing excitement, they always had questions whose answers they didn’t like. What time do we have to get up? “5 a.m.” Are we going to shoot anything? “It’s called hunting for a reason, son.” They would opt to sleep in and play videogames after a week packed with school and sports.

    His son Brock, now a 21-year-old University of Florida junior, says he didn’t have the patience to “wake up at four in the morning and then get up in a tree stand for three or four hours and then hope a deer goes by.”

    Over Christmas break, the son did try hunting and skinning a deer—in the new hit videogame “Red Dead Redemption 2.” “The character in the videogame picks it up by the neck and cuts a slit on its belly in one fell swoop. My dad was like ‘That’s not realistic!’ ”

    The younger generation is an elusive quarry.

    The National Rifle Association offers training programs and competitions for young hunters. The National Wildlife Federation’s Artemis initiative works to recruit, train and spotlight sportswomen who have traditionally made up a small portion of hunters.



    Edwin Pierre-Louis shows a cellphone photo of a recent kill. PHOTOS: DUSTIN CHAMBERS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Programs like Field to Fork aim at younger adults with disposable income who never learned how to hunt. Hank Forester, 33, says he came up with the program over beers with Mr. Evans after being inspired by the bustling Athens farmers market where University of Georgia students and others flock for local produce.

    His group handed out brochures with slogans like “HARVEST your own LOCAL MEAT” and “HUNTERS ARE THE ORIGINAL CONSERVATIONISTS.”

    “We didn’t lead with, ‘Hey, do you want to go shoot a deer?’ ” says Mr. Forester, a hunting programs manager at the Quality Deer Management Association, the group that sponsors Field to Fork. “If you’re talking about local, sustainable—I can’t certify organic—you can’t do better than white-tailed deer.”

    The program, which offers hunting and venison-cooking classes, now operates in eight states, Mr. Forester says.

    ‘It’s all I can think about,’ says former vegetarian Jennifer DeMoss, left, about hunting.

    David Kidd, 67, a retired owner of a landscape company near Athens, signed up to be a mentor because he saw friends and family, including his son, give up hunting. He says he learned that a hunter “doesn’t have to look like me.”

    The program has bagged new hunters like Jennifer DeMoss, 40, who was a vegetarian several years in her 20s. She later concluded humans were omnivores who should eat meat ethically, so she began to eat roadkill meat. The anthropology grad student discovered Field to Fork at the farmers market and figured hunting, too, was ethical.

    Her first kill, with her mentor in 2017, gave her a “familiar, comfortable, exhilarating feeling,” she says, and gratitude the animal gave its life so she could eat. Now she heads to the forest as often as she can. “It’s all I can think about.”

    She was among those at the December hunt. Wearing camouflage and orange hats and vests, the hunters spread out to stands in trees and waited for deer to forage at dusk.

    One was Edwin Pierre-Louis, 31, a Haitian immigrant and University of Georgia grad student studying parasites. He says that growing up in Haiti, he would hunt birds with slingshots but no one taught him to hunt larger game. He signed up for Field to Fork in 2017. “There are people like me who really want to learn to hunt.”

    Another person on the hunt was Sarah Thurman, 30, market manager at the Athens Farmers Market, who says she long wanted to learn the sport but no one around her growing up outside Los Angeles knew how. She joined Field to Fork last year and says hunting helps people to “opt out of the systems of mass production” for food.

    It is also appealing because it gives her a primal sense of self-reliance, she says. “There is this animal side of you.”

    Shivering, the would-be hunters occasionally whispered to each other in the darkening forest. One group saw fawns that didn’t come close enough to shoot. Everyone else saw only squirrels.

    When night fell, everyone gathered back at trucks and drove to the deer-association offices empty-handed and ate venison tacos Mr. Forester made.

    Write to Cameron McWhirter at and Zusha Elinson at
  2. The_Duck_Master

    The_Duck_Master Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Salem, Oregon
    We've been seeing this movement here for a while. Oregon Dept of F&W has an outdoor skills education program that hosts workshops and first timer activities for wannabe outdoors people. There are turkey, pheasant and duck hunts, flyfishing, crabbing, clamming workshops and a whole host of other learning opportunities. I've guided pheasant hunts for kids and women hunters as well as given duck calling lessons and guided duck hunts as part of this program. I also have a personal goal to take at least one person hunting each year that has never hunted before, or at least hasn't duck or upland hunted. It's a great experience.

    One of the best ways I've found to assist with hunter recruitment is by helping organize and run a youth outdoor skills event for kids each year: I help plan the event, manage the website, coordinate online registration and spend the day of the event teaching duck calling to about 250 of the 700 kids in attendance each year. I dedicate anywhere from 40-60 hours each year helping this event succeed. My wife, daughter and son all participate as well.
  3. pintail2222

    pintail2222 Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 8, 2002
    Collier Co. Florida
    Kombucha is nasty! Took a sip and ended up spitting it out. Tasted like fermented vinegar w/ some blueberries thrown in for flavor. Yuck!
  4. stevena198301

    stevena198301 Elite Refuge Member Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2015
    HSV, Alabama
    Alabama started a program a few years back to recruit people who don't hunt, but are interested in learning. Kinda a mentor program. According to the newsletter, they had good participation, and almost everyone tagged an animal. The comments from the new hunters was positive. Many saying they will be going again in the future.

    Here's one ladies story that was in the newsletter:

    Mentored Hunt Starts Welch's Outdoors Journey


    Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

    As far as Leslie Welch is concerned, she was hooked at “Boom.” That report from the deer rifle happened a couple of years ago when she was among the lucky people who were selected to go on an Adult Mentored Hunt in Mobile County.

    That experience set in motion Welch’s latest episode in her outdoors journey – alligator hunting. On her third try, Welch was drawn for one of the 150 tags in the Southwest Alabama Zone that includes private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke and Monroe counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of U.S. Highway 84.

    Welch, who grew up in a household that seldom ventured outdoors, had never even fired a gun before the mentored hunt, which made it even more interesting that she would pursue an alligator tag. However, Welch said that first outdoors experience opened a whole new world of adventure. Duck hunting is next on her to-do list.

    “I grew up with a daddy who was a professor of religious studies at Alabama and a mom who did IT (Information Technology) before she became an industrial engineer in computer science,” Welch said. “We didn’t have these opportunities because my parents never presented it. I dated a boy in high school who hunted. He asked me to go hunting, but I never went.”

    Welch, a former teacher, once worked with Amy Doss, wife of Jeremy Doss, a State Lands Division Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

    “Amy would always have good stories for me about the outdoors,” Welch said. “And Amy was telling me about this hunt for first-timers.”

    Jeremy Doss and Daniel Musselwhite, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries’ South Regional Hunter Education Coordinator, were involved in starting the Adult Mentored Hunt (AMH) program in Mobile County. Welch fit the AMH target profile of a non-hunter and was chosen to go on her first deer hunt. She didn’t even see a deer, but several of the other hunters bagged their first deer that day.

    “It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of,” Welch said. “Everybody was so welcoming, and nobody made you feel like an idiot for not knowing things, which is important, especially to a first-time person. Everything was explained to me.

    “When I got to shoot the gun, oooh, I loved it. It scared the bejesus out of me, but I was really good at it. Then I bought a gun after that.”

    She still hasn’t been able to squeeze the trigger on a deer, but that hasn’t quelled her enthusiasm.

    Then Amy shared another outdoors story about gator hunting after a friend of the Dosses got a tag. Welch started applying for alligator tags until she was finally drawn this year.

    “I was shocked I got a tag,” Welch said. “I texted Jeremy and Amy that they had to take me.”

    The Dosses agreed, and Welch entered an environment she had never imagined in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

    “I had never been on a boat at night except for a cruise ship,” Welch said. “It was fabulous. It was gorgeous. It was peaceful. It’s a totally different world at night. I got to go under the bridge on the Causeway. There were all kinds of things I got to experience that I’d never done before. And we saw lots and lots of gators, but they were spooked that first night.

    “We didn’t get a gator, but I was ready to go again.”

    With the Causeway gators somewhat leery because of all the boat traffic, Welch and the Dosses moved to the upper Delta for the second round. With a little help from Matt Horton of the Upper Delta Gobblers NWTF chapter, their luck changed quickly after launching the boat near Stockton.

    “This gator popped up right after we launched the boat,” Welch said. “I named him ‘George’ by the way.”

    Welch quickly hooked the gator, but she didn’t realize it at the time.

    “I thought I was hooked on the bottom,” she said. “Then I told Jeremy the line was moving. He said, ‘The gator is walking on the bottom.’ I said, ‘What?’ I didn’t know they walked on the bottom.”

    Doss said, “He was pulling the boat. It’s dark, so you don’t realize he’s pulling the boat because you have no frame of reference. He was just easing us down the river.”

    Welch was soon up for another surprise when the alligator finally decided to come to the surface.

    “When everybody put their spotlights on him, I literally backed up behind Jeremy,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh, heck, that thing is real.’”

    Doss said the fifth time Welch was able to reel the animal to the surface they were able to get a harpoon in the gator.

    “He was in 36 feet of water,” Doss said. “The problem was when he came up, he wouldn’t come straight up, he came up away from the boat. We finally got him up close enough to get a harpoon in him.”

    Minutes later, the 10½-foot gator was dispatched and the celebration began.

    “I’m sure there was a lot of squealing going on,” Welch said. “I tried not to because I was with a bunch of guys, but I’m afraid to say there was some squealing.

    “Then I was just staring at the gator. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is real.’ Then I got to touch the gator. I had never touched an alligator before. I had never even been to Alligator Alley and touched one of the baby alligators.”

    Doss added, “I don’t believe we would have gotten the gator so quickly without Matt’s help. Matt also helps with the mentored hunts, and he helped put us on the gator.”

    In this world of social media, it’s no surprise that Welch shared her gator hunt on Facebook.

    “I did brag,” she said. “Since then, I’ve had people asking me when I’m going again. I told them it doesn’t work that way, but let me tell you how to apply for a tag. So, there are at least seven people more who are going to put in for tags next year.”

    Musselwhite said Welch’s story and her outreach to friends about her outdoors experiences are exactly what the AMH program is designed to do.

    “It’s important that we did make her a hunter, but she has that ripple effect to go out and recruit new hunters,” Musselwhite said. “By creating one hunter, we may be able to recruit several more hunters.”

    Last year, Brian Nettles was highlighted as a newly recruited hunter through the AMH program, and Musselwhite has followed Nettles’ outdoors journey.

    “Since last year, Brian has killed his first buck,” Musselwhite said. “Two of his kids have killed bucks. He came to me pretty raw and had no idea what to do. Now, he’s got two kids that maybe wouldn’t be hunters if not for the program.

    “And Leslie shows that it’s not about killing a deer. There’s so much more to hunting than killing deer. It’s enjoying the little things you see in the woods. That’s the demographic we’re going after.”

    Welch said it’s hard to describe the sensory input she has experienced during her outdoors adventures.

    “How do you explain to someone the sound of the wind coming through the trees while you’re sitting out there in the blind?” Welch said. “I didn’t know what that sound was. I’d never been still in nature long enough to know what it was. It’s the prettiest sound I’ve ever heard. It was so calming.

    “It’s one of the reasons I want to experience more of the outdoors. I want to try these things I was not offered as a teenager growing up in Tuscaloosa. I want to go duck hunting, and I’m going deer hunting again.”

    And, rest assured, her name will also be on an application for an alligator tag again next year.
    WHUP ! Hen likes this.
  5. hartfish

    hartfish Elite Refuge Member

    Feb 10, 2005
    You are an officer and a gentleman. :clap
    The_Duck_Master likes this.
  6. The_Duck_Master

    The_Duck_Master Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Salem, Oregon
    One thing most hunters don't fully grasp is the high barrier to entry that exists to hunting (especially duck hunting). Nobody is just going to on a whim decide to take up duck hunting, buy all the needed gear and research all the myriad of regulations. A mentor at some level is essential. I encourage anyone with a bit of experience and a friendly personality to volunteer to help make these kinds of activities succeed. Plus, it often gets you places you haven't been yourself.
  7. buck_master_2001

    buck_master_2001 Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Southern Mitten
    Pittman Robinson funds are expected to decrease by 18% next year. PR funds were actually started by the gun manufacturers. They seen it as a way to boost sales. Need a gun if you’re gonna hunt. Now, the gun manufacturers are starting to question the PR tax and the ATA is wanting in on it because archery shooting is up. However studies have shown that in youth programs to shoot archery only 1/10 will go on to hunt. This was all discussed at our CWAC meeting last weekend.
  8. API

    API PAF-CA Flyway Moderator

    Dec 29, 2008
    CWAC???? From Google search...

    Acronym Definition
    CWAC Children with AIDS Charity (London, England, UK)
    CWAC Clean Water Action Council (est. 1985; Wisconsin)
    CWAC Canadian Women's Army Corps (WWII)
    CWAC Coordinated Waterbird Counts (African Waterfowl Census Programme)
    CWAC Canines with a Cause (est. 2001; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
    CWAC Charlotte World Affairs Council
  9. buck_master_2001

    buck_master_2001 Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Southern Mitten
    Citizen Waterfowl Action Committee. Our state has a committee that works hand in hand with the DNR on anything waterfowl related. It works out well and allows us to have a clear say in our dates, limits, zones etc. I think we are 1 of two states that has this.
    API likes this.
  10. Bear

    Bear Elite Refuge Member

    Nov 30, 2002
    God Bless Texas!!!

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