One of the best way to learn hunt is by having an experienced person mentor you. However, if you’re like me then you probably grew up in a family that didn’t hunt, and don’t know anybody who hunts. This definitely makes it difficult to find a hunting mentor. But don’t fret! There are plenty of options out there to help you find a mentor, you just have to know where to look. Hopefully after reading this post you will have a few new ideas on how to find a mentor.
When I began looking for a hunting mentor, I started by posting on a few online hunting forums. I got no takers. I don’t know if there just weren’t any users near me that viewed the post, or if I was using the wrong forums, or what. But the online forums were a bust for me. It is definitely an option, and maybe you’ll have better luck. But I wouldn’t rely solely on this.
Perhaps a better way to find a hunting mentor is to go through a conservation organization. Lets be honest, if you are a hunter then you should probably be a member of at least 1 organization anyway. These conservation organizations usually have meetings or events where members gather. These meetings and events can be great places to meet local hunters, and possibly find a hunting mentor. I’ll have a future post about conservation organizations, but for now I’ll just list some:
- Whitetails Unlimited
- The Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Mule Deer Foundation
- Ducks Unlimited
- Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
I chose to join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers first. They don’t seem to have a large enough group of members in my area to be a feasible option for me to find a mentor. But, I really like their message and the work that they do so I decided to join anyway.
Many states now have programs specifically geared toward teaching adults to hunt. Some states have programs that link you with a mentor, while others have mentored hunt programs where you attend a hunt that is led by experienced hunters. Not all states have one of these programs (my state did not), but you can also look in nearby states. Some states will allow non-residents to participate!
Alabama has the Adult Mentored Hunting Program (AMH), which is “designed to provide a new hunter or a hunter with limited experience a one-on-one hunt under the guidance of a veteran hunting mentor.” I know for a fact that this program is also open to non-residents. I will hopefully have a review of one of their squirrel hunts up on the website within a few months!
Wisconsin has their own Learn to Hunt program, which “combine classroom instruction and field work before a novice goes hunting with an experienced hunter. They are a great way to introduce someone new to Wisconsin’s hunting heritage.”
Minnesota has a Learn to Hunt: Wild Turkey program, which “are intended as educational experiences to teach new turkey hunters (youth, their parents/guardians, adults and families) the skills and techniques needed to be life-long turkey hunters.”
Illinois has a Hunter Recruitment Program, which “provides FREE educational workshops aimed at teaching ADULT participants how to hunt deer, turkey, small game, upland game, and waterfowl.”
Massachusetts has a Learn to Hunt program where “[h]unters with little or no experience can learn skills and techniques used to hunt different game animals. Courses are geared toward recent Basic Hunter Education graduates and include classroom learning and outdoor skills exercises.”
Colorado has a Hunter Outreach Program that “seeks out people with non-hunting backgrounds. We offer clinics, seminars, advice, and educational hunts for novice hunters of all ages. Our educational programs appeal to diverse interests and levels of ability. We can help you make the most of your hunting pursuits, or help take you through the first steps towards becoming a part of our hunting community.”
South Dakota has the Harvest SD program, which ” is a comprehensive multi-class series for novice hunters and anglers with an emphasis on ethics, stewardship, community, and quality local food. These classes provide students with the skills to hunt or fish, process, and cook their quarry.”
Louisiana has the Louisiana Hunting Heritage Program (LHHP), which “focuses on reducing the obstacles that prospective hunters in today’s society face. In the past, people learned to hunt from their family or close friends, and access to land was readily available. Today, a person who has an interest in hunting may not have the family or social network to help them get started. As a result, many people with an interest in hunting never give it a try or simply give up when faced with the challenges of being a hunter in today’s world. The program is not limited to any age or demographic group, but welcomes anyone who wants to learn to hunt and anyone who has a desire to help others learn about hunting. LDWF sponsors the program and works to create a network of hunting mentors that are willing to teach others about hunting and help their apprentices become skilled and independent hunters.”
If your state isn’t listed as having a program, don’t give up yet! Many state wildlife management agencies have a Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) program that is geared toward increasing the number of hunters. Look up your states R3 coordinator and ask if he/she could help you find a huntingmentor, or recommend a program. To find out if your site has an R3 coordinator you can use http://www.cahss.org/state-r3-coordinators/ .
Do you know of a program not listed here? Post it in the comments and I’ll add it.
If you want to go it alone, or start learning before you find a mentor, I have a Learn to Hunt series of posts that can get you started: