The International Hunter Education Association-USA created “Hunters Connect” to help recent hunter-education graduates learn more hunting skills and in-depth information.
“Hunters Connect” is a video-based platform that uses social media to communicate and share information with students who recently passed an online or in-person hunter-education course. Before detailing how to benefit from all that content, let’s discuss the IHEA-USA’s purpose and why it created the platform. Alex Baer, IHEA-USA’s chief operating officer, provides the insights.
IHEA-USA is a 71-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining hunting’s heritage worldwide by developing safe, responsible and knowledgeable hunters. Most states require residents and nonresidents to pass a hunter-education course before buying a hunting license. The IHEA-USA ensures those courses help students feel safe, confident and comfortable when afield.
The IHEA-USA works with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to boost hunter numbers and create educational standards for online and in-person courses taught by state wildlife agencies. The IHEA-USA even hires a third-party company to ensure its courses meet those standards. Those efforts ensure hunters nationwide receive the same safety education, allowing them to buy licenses and hunt safely everywhere.
The Inception: Baer said the IHEA-USA examines the content and timing of these courses to ensure students retain the skills and insights they’re taught. Many students take the in-person courses in spring, but most don’t start hunting until fall. Therefore, several months pass before they buy a license and try hunting.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What resources do people have in the meantime?’” Baer said. “People have lots of questions after passing a hunter-education course. They want to know where to go and how to buy a license. ‘Hunters Connect’ helps recent graduates keep learning.”
The platform launched in August 2019, and has been well-received. It also meshes with the national R3 movement by helping to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters. That also makes “Hunters Connect” a valuable tool for conservation programs because revenue from license fees and federal excise taxes on bows, arrows and bow accessories help agencies restore habitat, train hunters, study wildlife, improve access, and fund conservation. Click here to learn more about these funding programs.
The Online Transition: As the internet and technology grew increasingly powerful, IHEA-USA worked with state agencies to offer online hunter-education courses. All 50 states now offer hunter-education courses or a component of them online. Although online courses increase participation and make hunter education more accessible, they lack interaction with peers and professional teachers. In-person courses are taught by trusted volunteers and educators who mentor students with reliable, in-depth content.
The Hunters Connect platform includes the IHEA-USA’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook and Instagram accounts. These outlets showcase videos that provide mentor-like tips and information that are helpful and easy to understand.
“People go on YouTube to search for everything,” Baer said. “We created a resource for the hunting and archery shooting community. People who visit HuntersConnect.org have opportunities to learn something new, enhance their knowledge, and gain confidence through video tutorials on all aspects of hunting.”
The platform has over 70 videos that run one to two minutes, and IHEA-USA staff add content weekly.
“All content is short, digestible and easy to find,” Baer said. “Visitors find quick answers to their questions. It’s not a hunting show you’d binge-watch on Netflix. It’s educational.”
Baer said the internet is plagued with videos featuring bad or unsafe hunting practices. In contrast, Hunters Connect delivers responsible content created by passionate hunting professionals such as Randy Newberg and The Hunting Public. IHEA-USA also works with YETI, OnXHunt, Alpz Outdoors and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for support and content.
Skim “Hunters Connect” for videos on map reading, animal behavior, survival skills, hunting gear and tactics, cooking wild game, and more. Archers, bowhunters, retailers, state agencies and others can also share the content, and interact by asking questions or sharing thoughts.
IHEA-USA staff plan to keep creating content, including mini video series and highly sought content identified by analytics. The organization also hopes to create a portal so wildlife-agency staff can download content for marketing materials to recruit hunters or help recent hunter-education graduates.
The organization continually monitors changes in technology, American culture, and hunting rules and regulations to adapt and improve its courses and teaching methods.
Visit HuntersConnect.org to learn something new.