Bowhunting is fun, it’s good for the environment, and it boosts your self-worth, self-reliance and self-confidence. It also gets you close to nature and teaches patience, ethics and appreciation. Plus, assuming you’re hunting deer, venison is a lean, organic protein that tastes great.
You know these things. In fact, they’re probably why you bowhunt. But what about your nonhunting friends? Do they know all that? Maybe it’s time to help them make the connection. Convert your nonhunting friends by sparking an interest in bowhunting and mentoring them.
Many people start bowhunting because of friends or family members. Now it’s your turn to inspire! With hundreds of activities competing for people’s attention, it’s important your friends learn that bowhunting is a fun, safe activity with many mental, physical and environmental benefits.
Jenny Anderson, video production manager for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, was never interested in hunting because she didn’t know much about it. That changed after covering outdoor news for a TV station in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a few years ago. Since then, her husband persuaded her to “give bowhunting a try,” and she’s thankful she did.
“I’m a woman, a person of color and didn’t know bowhunting was something I was capable of doing,” Anderson said. “Today, I have the confidence to go hunting, thanks to other women bowhunters who paved the way.”
Anderson didn’t have any opportunities to hunt while growing up. Once she learned about it, all she needed was a nudge. Now she’s hunting with her husband and sharing her experiences with friends and family members. Anderson’s story proves that converting someone to bowhunt is as simple as showing them it’s a positive activity for everyone.
According to the Quality Deer Management Association’s 2014 Whitetail Report, 79 percent of Americans approve of hunting. Of that total, 52 percent strongly approve. That means the United States has millions of potential bowhunters.
An easy way to introduce friends to bowhunting is connecting them to it with meaningful conversations. Does your friend wear camouflage? Do they like trying new things? Do they like spending time outdoors? Do they like hiking or exercise? Do they care about nature and the environment? Do they donate food to the needy? Do they like eating ethically and sustainably harvested food?
These topics are natural ways to discuss bowhunting. Find something that intrigues your friend and then present your bowhunting pitch. Listen to their response, try to find common ground, and cultivate the relationship and interest from there.
Anderson uses social media to educate more people about bowhunting. “I think a good, tasteful picture and thoughtful words can help someone understand where I’m coming from with bowhunting,” she said.
Keith Warnke, the R3 team supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said venison is a great way to introduce kids, women and other adults to bowhunting. You can share venison jerky or cook a venison dish for family events or potlucks at work or church. When people compliment the dish, explain what it is and how you got it, and offer to teach them more. We recommend these wild game recipes.
What if you pique their interest, but they’re still nervous? Perhaps they lack the gear or a place to hunt. Or maybe they think bowhunting is too morbid or complicated. Now’s your time to shine. Read Bowhunting 360’s article “4 Common Barriers to Bowhunting and How to Overcome Them” for insights to help calm their nerves. Offer advice and input, or share a personal story to show you – or someone you know – relates to their hesitation.
Warnke believes most people are curious about hunting. “Whether they’re curious from a food or land-ethic standpoint, it’s important the hunting community be helpful and supportive,” he said.
If this is your friend’s introduction to bowhunting, offering your assistance as a mentor or role model. Encourage them by being open, honest, helpful and straight-forward.
Warnke said it takes several experiences to learn bowhunting skills. He recommends helping beginners find equipment and practice with it. Also, visit the woods often with them to share its many natural wonders. In other words, give them a fair chance to succeed. Answer their questions, and do not make bowhunting a competition or set unrealistic expectations.
Once they’re hooked, introduce them to different hunting methods, locations, strategies and opportunities to keep them engaged and interested.
Realize, too, that your friend might reach that big day and learn bowhunting isn’t their thing. In that case, respect their decision and thank them for trying. And then smile and encourage them to try competitive or recreational archery. They’ll find everything they need to know on Archery360.com.