How did you get started in archery or bowhunting? Did a friend or family member provide the introduction, or did you learn from a school or Field to Fork program?
Either way, a mentor probably helped you. Pass on the tradition, become a mentor, and encourage a friend, coworker, neighbor or family member to hunt with you.
Who Can Be a Mentor?
No matter your expertise or skill level, you can probably be a bowhunting mentor. If you’re passionate about bowhunting and practice safe, legal tactics, you can introduce others to the sport and learn along the way.
If you want a more structured approach to mentoring, check your state wildlife agency’s website for mentoring programs. You can also join a conservation or sportsmen’s organization with a mentoring program, like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or Quality Deer Management Association. These programs often provide mentor training so you know how to work with beginners.
Why Mentor Newcomers?
Taking new people bowhunting is a fun, rewarding and sustainable way to keep hunting relevant. Plus, it’s great for the environment.
Hunters help wildlife agencies control elk and white-tailed deer populations. If left unchecked, elk and deer can overbrowse the landscape, cause crop damage, and be more susceptible to disease and starvation.
Hunters also help fund states’ conservation efforts, such as wildlife research, habitat-restoration projects, and public-access programs. Each time someone buys archery equipment or a hunting license, they “donate” to state wildlife agencies or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thanks to federal excise taxes and the Wildlife Restoration Act, aka the Pittman-Robertson Act. These processes ensure our nation’s fish and wildlife remain healthy, abundant and available to anglers and hunters.
Do more for others and conservation. Convert your nonhunting friends by sparking their interest in bowhunting, and then mentoring them.
Find a Nonhunter
About 84% of Americans approve of hunting for meat, according to the 2019 National Shooting Sports Foundation report on Americans’ attitudes toward hunting, fishing, trapping and sport shooting. Additionally, 80% of Americans approve of hunting with a bow and arrow.
But an Archery Trade Association survey found only about 4% of Americans 18 or older bowhunted in 2015.
That means the United States has millions of potential bowhunters waiting for you to make a connection and offer help. A Bowhunting 360 article, “Share Your Passion: Convert Your Nonhunting Friends,” explains several ways to connect with others about bowhunting. Those connections include the outdoors, hiking, exercising, the environment, camouflage styles, and eating ethically and sustainably harvested food.
If they’re interested, provide your support and enthusiasm. Take them under your wing and show them how to get started.
Mentoring doesn’t just mean you’ll take someone hunting. Help them build their skills and knowledge before you hit the woods.
Consider these bowhunting-related mentoring ideas:
– Watch a free hunting show and explain to your friend what’s happening.
– Go to the range to practice. Shoot targets at varying distances to mimic bowhunting scenarios.
– Scout public or private lands for deer sign and hotspots.
– Attend an “Intro to Bowhunting” or bowhunting-education course.
– Prepare a wild-game meal and discuss how to process and store venison.
– Meet for coffee to discuss hunting goals, motivations and regulations.
Bowhunting is an exciting activity for newcomers, but it can be intimidating. The more support beginners receive when starting, the more likely they’ll stick with it. Answer their questions, demonstrate ethical behavior, and share your love of bowhunting one mentored hunt at a time.
Try to mentor and recruit five participants each year to grow bowhunting’s ranks. Your efforts help create a stronger, more unified archery and bowhunting community.