As spring turns to summer, many hunters find themselves in the midst of a lull of sorts. Turkey season has now concluded, yet deer season is still months away.
While the avid bowhunter can certainly pass the time by shooting their bow or preparing stands for the fall ahead, some still find themselves attempting to fill a void left by the relative absence of an open season.
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However, often overlooked is the opportunity that this time of the year provides for mentoring the upcoming generation of outdoorsmen and women to come.
Instead of sitting idly by, we can use our free time to foster the interest of youth in our communities, thereby supporting prospective hunters from every walk of life.
While this might seem like a daunting task to many, providing young outdoorsmen and women with much-needed support is far less difficult than one might think.
Furthermore, most hunters will find mentorship of this type to be far more rewarding than they would have ever dreamed.
The following are 5 ways to take an active role in the mentorship of young archers and bowhunters in your community.
Volunteer With A NASP Chapter Near You
Over the past decade, the National Archery in the Schools Program has grown tremendously in size and scope. School-age children are beginning to join their local archery teams at a rapid pace, in much the same way as one would join the baseball or basketball team.
This, in itself, presents an excellent opportunity for recruiting new hunters.
By volunteering with your local archery in the school’s program, you can provide assistance to young archers who show interest in the prospect of bowhunting.
In many cases, all a young archer needs is a little encouragement or some pointers on how to begin their hunting journey. You can also provide information regarding upcoming hunter safety and education courses within your community.
Sponsor Hunter Education Opportunities
Almost every hunter knows of at least one child who has expressed interest in hunting, yet has had no formal experience related to the sport.
In many cases, these children can benefit substantially from attending a hunter education course. Unfortunately, not every child is provided with an opportunity to participate in such formal training for one reason or another.
One can be of assistance in such situations, by helping a child overcome any obstacles that might prevent them from attending formal classes of this nature.
In many cases, a family might be facing tough times and can not spare the extra money to enroll their child in a hunter education class. In these situations, a group of hunters can come together, chipping in a few dollars each to pay for such courses.
In other instances, a child might lack transportation to and from hunter education courses, due to a parent’s busy work schedule.
In these cases, you can make a tremendous difference by simply offering to transport a child to their hunter education classes, as needed.
Bring A Child Along On Your Next Hunt
Many times, a child will be eager to hunt, yet lack the ability to do so. This often occurs when a child’s parents are not hunters themselves, or when the family of a child does not have any land at their disposal to hunt.
Luckily, this obstacle can be overcome by simply offering to bring a young, prospective hunter along on your next outing.
Outings of this nature do not have to be intricately planned, nor end in a filled tag. Instead, most children are simply content to spend an afternoon afield, taking in the sights and sounds of nature.
This also serves as a teachable moment, during which you can provide instruction to a new hunter and explain the importance of hunting safety.
Host A Youth Hunt
Selective doe harvest is one of the foremost principles of sound deer management. Harvesting a predetermined number of does, from a given property, helps prevent the local deer herd from exceeding the land’s carrying capacity.
However, it is often difficult for one hunter to successfully take enough does to meet their management goals in many areas. Luckily, this presents the perfect opportunity for young hunters to gain experience in the field.
Landowners can host youth hunts to assist in meeting their annual doe harvest goals. Young hunters, along with their parents, can be invited to hunt on a predetermined weekend, with the intent of harvesting does, when the opportunity arises.
This is a mutually beneficial situation, in which children are provided the opportunity to hunt, while a landowner is assisted in the management of their property.
Give The Gift Of Conservation
Today, an ever-growing number of hunting-related organizations exist, many of which detail the importance of conservation.
Some of the most notable of these organizations include the NWTF, RMEF, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Pheasants Forever, and Whitetails Unlimited.
These organizations provide mentorship for new hunters and protect vital habitats for both game and non-game species.
One can do their part in passing on their hunting heritage, by getting a young hunter involved in one or more of the above-mentioned organizations.
This can be as simple as bringing a child along to a chapter meeting or paying for their annual membership dues, most of which are quite modest.
This connects a young hunter with a like-minded group of individuals, most of which will be more than happy to assist them in their future endeavors.
Investing In Our Future
As hunters, it is our duty to teach others about our way of life. Doing so ensures that our heritage is not forgotten, and provides guidance for the generation to come.
By taking young hunters under our wings, we provide our youth with a healthy respect for the game we hunt, as well as a firm understanding of conservation as a whole.