Reasons We Don’t Ask Someone to Go Hunting

Recently, we announced new Families Afield numbers that show more than three-quarters of a million apprentice hunting licenses have been sold across the country over the past six years.

I was feeling mighty proud.  As USSA’s point person on Families Afield I spend a significant amount time thinking about getting new hunters involved in our sport and working with state legislators to make that happen.  After going home that day feeling good about the success we’ve had and the new hunters we’ve created… I was met by the cold reality that I had missed the trees for the forest.  In this case, the tree is my longtime girlfriend.

Out of the blue she tells me she wants to shoot a turkey.  Now, she’s been shooting with me before on a few occasions and has genuinely enjoyed herself. (She’s not a bad shot either!) But she had never expressed any interest in hunting…actually killing something.  And I’d never asked her to go.

For her it was simple – she, like many, was simply too shy to ask.  But that was not her fault.  It was mine.  I never even thought of asking her.  Not even once.  The whole experience got me thinking about why we sometimes miss the easy target?

What is it that holds us back – consciously or subconsciously – from taking someone hunting?

I began to talk with colleagues in the office.  Here are the top three reasons from our conversations for why we don’t take new people hunting:

1)      Not Feeling Competent Enough:  Many people simply don’t feel they are a good enough hunter to teach someone the ins-and-outs of hunting.   It may be fear of a slow day in the woods.  Or pressure to produce a quality hunt.  In reality it’s about spending time with friends or loved ones.  Most new hunters will see past the rough patches and appreciate the time and effort you gave.  We shouldn’t worry about making it the perfect hunt (everyone gets shutout some days, right?).  Plus, a bad day hunting is always better than a day in the office, so enjoy the time spent in the woods passing on your skills.  Chances are they will enjoy it too.

2)      Time Commitment:   Let’s call a spade, a spade – this is a selfish reason and one that I fully understand and struggle with.  Taking someone hunting requires a significant amount of time.  For most people, hunting occurs on the weekend, which reduces a 4-week season to just a handful of huntable days.  Taking a newcomer hunting cuts our own opportunity to fill a tag.  There is no doubt – mentoring is a big commitment.  Just remember, someone else took the time and effort to teach us and if we want hunting to be around for our kids and grandkids we have a duty to do the same for someone else.  On top of that, watching someone fall in love with hunting is fulfilling.

3)      Making Assumptions/Overlooking:  I am guilty as charged here. My mistake was assuming that she didn’t have an interest.  I don’t know why I never asked.  But learn from my mistake – just because someone doesn’t ask doesn’t mean that they are uninterested.  They may just be too shy to ask you.

So after a quick shopping trip… some fancy new camo (with pink trim of course)… and an Apprentice Hunting license she’s all set to hit the turkey woods.  She may never become a full time hunter.  She may never take Hunter Education.  She might not have the patience to sit in the turkey woods or a duck blind.  But then again she might do all of those things.  At least now she will have the chance.

Being too shy to ask shouldn’t condemn someone to being left at home.  Recruiting new hunters is more than stats and programs.  New hunters are right under our noses and they are made one hunting trip at a time.  They can be our friends, our family, or co-workers.   These people are the future of hunting, and it’s our duty to find them… just as someone found us.  It’s our duty to Protect What’s Right.

What holds you back from taking someone hunting?

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7 comments on “Reasons We Don’t Ask Someone to Go Hunting

  1. tammydiane says:

    Evan, great job of reminding us that opportunities to share the hunting heritage may be right under our noses. I’m taking out a new hunter in a few weeks, and you’ve inspired me to approach the experience with enthusiasm!

    • Evan Heusinkveld says:

      Thanks for the comment, Tammy. Hopefully you’ll have good luck and good weather. But most importantly – have a good time! Be sure to stop back and tell us how it went. Thanks again, Evan.

  2. straussoutdoors says:

    Great post, Evan!

    You’re right, there are people all around us wanting to give hunting a try. However I think many newbies have information overload. Simply taking someone to the field hopefully answers some of their questions and gets them excited about the outdoors and hunting.

    I like to let people out for the first time dictate the pace – if they only want to observe that’s fine, if they are ready and willing to handle downed game that’s great, or if they are ready to take the plunge and shoot that’s fine too. Everything in its due time – once they’re good and ready and have some hunting success, most are hooked for life.

    • Evan Heusinkveld says:

      Thank you. You make a great point. I remember being overwhelmed my first time out… (honestly, who isn’t?) I think having the patience to explain things – often multiple times – and moving at their pace goes a long way to “making” a new hunter. Thanks again, we really appreciate you stopping by and reading our stuff.

  3. camptales says:

    Evan — thanks for going down this road. It’s so easy to make excuses, and I’m guilty of all three from time to time … but most often #1 gets me good. I don’t worry about a quality hunt, we always have fun, but even after a lifetime outdoors I worry about making sure I’m properly helping folks with all the necessary elements of safety, shot placement, laws/regulations. I admit this holds me back, dang it.

  4. Evan Heusinkveld says:

    Well, you certainly aren’t alone there. Many people carry the burden of being a quality mentor with them. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t let it get the better of us…

    Hunters are made one trip into the woods at a time – after all, we didn’t become experts overnight.

    Thanks for stopping by! -Evan

  5. Inviting people to go hunting is a great concept, but it does have its pitfalls. More so when the hunts are done on Public Land. On private land there is more control, but even then, incidents happen, that should not.

    One of the aspects about taking someone hunting or fishing for that matter, is that you are taking them to a place you have developed. Unless you explicity tell these folks that they can not access the land with out your being present, you are laying yourself wide openm to lose the ability to access this land.

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