The future of hunting depends on passing along hunting traditions and love of the outdoors to the next generation of hunters, a truth almost universally accepted in the hunting community. That, however, is an increasing challenge today. And for those who do not have connections with family members who are hunters, it can be overwhelming.
This vital need has long been recognized by the outdoor community and, thankfully, many new and continuing efforts are addressing this recruitment crisis. As would be expected, the NRA is at the forefront of the effort, having established many youth shooting and hunting programs. In 2014, it took another bold step by creating the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) and NRAHLF.org.
The NRA HLF brings together dedicated, distinguished hunters who are leaders in their professions, communities and in the field who will work together to address the cultural, demographic and technological challenges to hunting in the 21st century—including generating a social media network blitz to preserve and grow hunting. Now, thanks to key partnerships between NRA, NSSF, SCI, the Dallas Safari Club, the firearms industry and others, HLF has “…created [a] communication network and information exchange that reaches and influences an audience of 20-million-plus hunters and wildlife conservationists nationwide.”
To my mind, hunting is a vital and integral part of what defines America, a part of our culture that makes us great. I embrace hunting as a pillar of conservation and our hunting heritage as part of the nation’s very foundation. It’s why I am now a regular contributor to NRAHLF.org.
The new page starts by asking “Why Hunt?” It explains, “Hunting is a safe, relaxing and exciting way for friends and family to spend time together while experiencing Florida’s natural beauty. Every hunting adventure is an opportunity to gain new understanding about wildlife and their habitats, while building important outdoor skills. And when the trip afield is successful, it means prolonging those treasured memories by cooking healthy, locally-sourced meals.”
Diane Eggeman, director of Hunting and Game Management for the FWC, commented on the New Hunter web page, saying, “FWC is dedicated to making sure we continue our conservation tradition by removing barriers to hunting. One way we can do that is to provide resources and information at MyFWC.com/NewHunter, which makes it easier for new hunters to get started. Hunting is viewed by many as a pathway to clean eating.”
Eggeman emphasized, “Hunters also provide needed support for conservation. Many conservation organizations share these principles and are critical links in helping to connect families to nature through hunting and other outdoor activities.”
The FWC puts hunting in perspective up front on the landing page, pointing out that hunting is so much more than the harvest. It details how hunters are vital supporters of conservation and that the purchase of a hunting license supports and contributes to conservation in both direct and indirect ways.
Prospective new hunters and mentors interested in helping someone get started in hunting will find a full menu of helpful information they’ll want and need in preparation for becoming a hunter. They’ll find sections on Regulations, New Hunter, Get Started, Beginning Hunters’ Info, Hunting Tips, Public Shooting Ranges, Hunting Opportunities, Youth Hunting Program, Special Youth Seasons, Public Hunting Opportunities, Next Steps, Additional Links, WMA Brochures, Limited Entry/Quota Hunts, Season Dates & Bag Limits, Safety & Education, Persons with Disabilities, and Outfitters & Guides.
This FWC New Hunter resource is one of many programs around the country designed to inform and educate new hunters and encourage their participation in America’s most meaningful conservation activity: hunting. Most states have similar resources on their websites, though perhaps not as condensed as Florida’s New Hunter site.
MyFWC/NewHunter is a positive, pro-active tool in the outdoor community’s effort to pass along the values of hunting, the outdoor lifestyle and the hunter’s conservation ethic. It helps remove many stumbling blocks that can waylay a potential new hunter by providing him or her with a pathway so they’ll know how to get where they want to go.
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About the Author Chris Chaffin has been an outdoor communicator, educator and partnership manager for more than 40 years. He has worked on the national scene representing several prominent components of the outdoor community promoting hunting, fishing, the shooting sports and conservation. He served two terms as Treasurer for theProfessional Outdoor Media Association(POMA), eventually taking on roles as vice-president, President and Chairman of the Board.
In 2007, he launchedChaffin Communications, Inc., a communications consulting company focusing on the outdoors. In 2012, with support from the Outdoor Adventure Dream Giveaway, Chaffin founded and currently manages theOutdoor Adventure Conservation Fund, a Florida non-profit established to encourage and facilitate more people participating in traditional outdoor activities. For more information,click here.