Here are some helpful instructions on how to introduce a new hunter to the sport we love.
One of the most rewarding experiences a skilled hunter can have is to take a new hunter to the field for the first time.
Sharing the knowledge and excitement brought on by years of hunting experience is a great way to ensure the sport we all love so much will stay alive and well.
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New hunters, in a significant way, are the lifeline of the hunting world.
Without passion and a continued desire to ethically chase wild game, hunting will become a thing of the past. To prevent that from happening, it is important to introduce new hunters to the sport in a way that makes them want to come back for more.
And to make it even more enticing for newbies, hunting mentor programs are set up in many states, which allows a seasoned hunter to take a rookie on hunting excursions without the need for that first-timer to purchase a license. It’s sort of a “try before you buy” program, and it’s a pretty great thing.
The responsibility of properly introducing a hunter to our sport falls upon the shoulders of those who know how to hunt successfully, and who are willing to pass on that knowledge.
For that reason, taking a first time hunter to the field is a big responsibility. One of the best ways to turn that responsibility into opportunity is to do everything possible to make sure the new hunter’s first hunt is a successful one.
Before the Hunt
Before the hunt ever happens, there are a few things that need to be done in order to make sure the new hunter is comfortable with his or her weapon and is properly prepared to withstand the conditions they will encounter in the field.
The first thing that needs to happen is to familiarize the new hunter with his or her weapon. Take them to the range and shoot until they get a good feel for the capability and mechanics of the weapon. Reiterate safety practices until you both feel good about the way they handle the weapon.
Finding the right gear for the field is the next step. Never let a new hunter go to the field without the proper gear. One of the quickest ways to ruin a new hunter is to allow them to get too cold or uncomfortable while hunting. New hunters need to want to come back and allowing them to become miserable on their first hunt is a sure way to prevent that from happening.
The responsibility of preparation is left to the experienced hunter. He is the one who knows the situation the new hunter will experience and with that responsibility he must be the one to go over the mental checklist and make sure everything is there.
Go to the Best Spot for Success
Experienced hunters can be territorial. Once a good hunting spot is found and established, they generally don’t want to share it with anyone. For that reason, when the time comes to take a fresh hunter into the field, often their first instinct is to avoid their personal favorite spot and try somewhere new.
In this case, protecting a hunting spot is far less important than allowing a new hunter the experience of successfully taking an animal. Overall, the sacrifice made is well worth the benefit of bringing another excited hunter into the fold. Don’t take a new hunter to an unproven, unfamiliar or lackluster location.
It’s Time for the Shot
When it’s time for the shot, remain calm. New hunters will pick up on the attitudes and actions of experienced hunters. Remaining calm in the face of a difficult shot or even an easy one with a first time hunter is critical. Concentrate on encouragement and let the new hunter have the experience of either success or failure without the interference of an overanxious mentor.
Should the shot fail, encouragement is vital. No hunter makes every shot and experienced hunters should never be too hard on a new hunter who misses. It’s the same as ensuring the new hunter is warm and comfortable in their environment. In order to make a new hunter want to return to the field, mistakes have to be treated as learning experiences and the experienced hunter has to create an environment where it is okay to learn from mistakes.
Game Retrieval and Processing
After the shot is taken and the animal is down, new hunters will get to experience the reality of their new sport. Killing an animal is serious business. The reality of death is likely to hit a new hunter pretty hard. This is the time an experienced hunter must be the voice of reason and support.
With compassion and calm reassurance, an experienced hunter can make the entire hunting process an educational and ethical activity. Allowing the new hunter a chance to be “hands on” (literally) with the process is important in determining if that hunter is someone who will truly enjoy the sport or if they aren’t quite cut out to handle everything involved.
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New Hunters on Their Way
Once a new hunter has that first successful hunt under his or her belt, they will know pretty quickly if hunting is something they enjoy or if it’s better left to someone else. If it’s not, don’t be hard on yourself or your pupil. Think about what may have swayed them one way or another, and address that same aspect the next time you introduce someone to hunting.
And remember, just because a new hunter has one successful hunt does not mean he or she won’t need future guidance. Successful, continuous hunting takes years of patience and practice along with the advice of good mentors and friends.
Hunting depends upon the passion and dedication of those willing to take to the fields and woodlands while sharing their knowledge with those who want to learn.
Have you introduced someone new to hunting? What did you hunt for, and where were you? Were you successful?