By Mark Huelsing
Alright, so as we covered last week, there is an enormous opportunity for us to recruit more men and women to our hunting heritage. This opportunity is not limited to raising hunters from a young age; we also have a great opportunity to share our passion with non-hunting adults.
I talked to several people about last week’s article and they were all pretty excited about the concept and grateful that I was addressing the topic. I was thrilled to hear that people are excited, but we need more than excitement about this idea – we need commitment.
Some of the best opportunities to recruit adult hunters exist in subcultures that are vastly different than our hunting circles. As I mentioned last week, “Hunters tend to run with hunters, and since we surround ourselves with likeminded individuals it is easy to fail to see the big picture.”
Here is just one piece of the big picture – there is a movement occurring in many streams of our culture that has focused on connecting to the natural world, understanding the origin, source, and treatment of food, and getting away from consumerism and back to simpler times. Many of these people shop at places like Whole Foods, local markets, or even visit local farms for organic, free-range, grass-fed meat.
The biggest opportunity to recruit adult hunters exists among a culture that is interested in hunting, not for trophies or recreation, but for food, sustainability, and connection to the natural world; they are “Conscientious Carnivores”.
If you compare the majority of these individuals to the majority of hunters you will find that they look different, talk different, and act different. They probably have different values, different ideas about politics, and yes, different ideas about hunting.
Their convictions surrounding food have led them to shop a certain way, and one of the logical next steps that they may consider is gardening, foraging, and even hunting for sustenance. You’ve heard it said that there is more than one way to skin a cat; I’ll put it this way, “There is more than one reason to gut a deer.”
This is an amazing opportunity, but it is no doubt a challenging one for many of us; if we are going to recruit hunters from these circles it will require our time, patience, and understanding. It will challenge our comfort and test our commitment to the future of hunting.
If you truly want to protect and strengthen the future of hunting, then it is vital to build a bridge with these potential hunters. To do this work we are going to have to face some difficult questions…
Are you willing to hunt with those that aren’t like you in any other way, or are you satisfied with the ‘good’ol boys’ club? Can you pull your F-150 to the side and share the back roads with a Volvo? Can you share a ground blind with someone that you would never share a voting booth with? Can you encourage others to hunt even though they don’t pursue the hunt for the same reasons?
Next week I want to look at three practical considerations that we must make when reaching out to recruit new hunters – whether they are children or adults, rednecks or elitists, Nascar fans or theatre aficionados, republicans or democrats.
But, for now, I want to leave you with this quote from Tover Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore,
“To understand, listen. To be understood, invite others to listen. To keep things as they are, preach to the choir and yell at everyone else.”
– Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. If he is not bowhunting, then he is planning towards it, training for it, and writing about it at SoleAdventure.com