Go outside of hunting to recruit hunters

There is much concern about diminishing numbers of outdoors enthusiasts of all types, not only hunting.

While many programs have been somewhat successful in piquing the interest of potential hunters, I don’t believe the answer is always sticking a gun in the hands of a 10-year-old and expecting there to be a connection.

Starting from the bottom sometimes has a place, too. Start building on an elementary understanding of any and all forms of gathering. Hunting, birding, capturing nature in art, fishing, habitat improvement, camping, hiking, planting trees or prairies are all possible places to get people of all ages interested and concerned about nature.

Keep doing the learn-to-hunt stuff, but also make some presence apparent at heritage days, at county fairs, farm breakfasts, wild food feasts, family reunions, and Muscoda Morel Days and similar events. Any place where a young person might begin to, say, understand about watching out for turtles crossing roads is a place to gain a new hunter or angler, archer or wild food gatherer.

It is a good thing if small groups of youngsters can be engaged with the “instructor,” as could be the case with conversations.

During the last year I saw, at a wild foods dinner sponsored by a church, many pre-teens dine on bluegills and wonder where their parents could buy food like that.

At a blacksmith heritage day, a former rattlesnake “hunter” brought two bullsnakes in a box and explained, demonstrated and enlivened those gathered when they watched how to calm a bullsnake by blowing in its face. He then handed the snake to two brothers, 10 and 9, who shared the snake for 20 minutes and listened to tales of a snake’s difficult life and why bullsnakes are helpful in creating a balanced ecosystem.

Hunting does not always begin with hunting. Hunting should always begin with participants developing an understanding of nature.

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