As firearm deer season approaches throughout much of the Midwest, experienced hunters are encouraged to use this time as an opportunity to introduce new hunters to the field. Pursuing deer with firearms is often the most popular season in many states due to the season’s overlap with the white-tailed deer breeding season, which provides the best opportunity for new and beginning hunters to experience an enjoyable and successful day in the field.
Recently, the Missouri Department of Conservation released its harvest report for the early youth firearms season that ran from October 31 through November 1. Highlighted by the more than 15,000 deer that Missouri’s youth hunters harvested over that weekend, youth hunting seasons represent excellent opportunities to introduce the next generation of sportsmen and women to the activities that we hold dear. However, many regular firearm seasons run for several weeks, and the days dedicated to youth-only hunting shouldn’t be the only option to introduce young hunters.
Additionally, hunters who discover their passion for the outdoors later in life – often referred to as adult-onset hunters – represent one of the largest growing sectors of the hunting population. Given the growing interest in the locavore movement, the availability of apprentice hunting opportunities in many states, and the need for safe recreational opportunities during the ongoing pandemic, 2020 may be the ideal year for hunters to share their time and pass on their passions to ensure the longevity of our hunting heritage and support the American System of Conservation Funding.
Though this has been a challenging year, we encourage all sportsmen and women to head outdoors this hunting season and take advantage of opportunities to practice #ResponsibleRecreation while introducing a new hunter in your area.
For more information on apprentice hunting opportunities and ways to get involved as a mentor, visit your state’s fish and wildlife management agency’s website.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?