Written by: Jamey Shirah
Hunting is dying!
Let’s get right to it: hunting, as we know it, won’t be around much longer if we don’t make some massive strides to recruit, reactivate and retain new, license-purchasing hunters. Enter, the Hunter Recruitment Project, or HRP. A project that’s been in the works for the last couple of years has finally hosted its first event! Our program focuses on the harvesting, processing and preparing of wild game, collisions between amazing people in their shared interest in the outdoors and lastly, but most importantly, creating new hunters.
While there are many fantastic youth programs out there, there’s a movement afoot to get older, new hunters activated and re-engaged. The post-college adult has discretionary income, their own transportation and the authority in their own lives to decide how they want to live. As new hunters in their 20s and 30s begin their own families, the exponential effect can further help develop new hunters across the country — something that can’t happen fast enough.
With less than 5% of Americans as hunters, we have an inconceivable shortage already. A vast majority of the conservation funding for everything from wildlife and endangered species management to the preservation of public lands and waters, comes from hunters and the dollars they spend on tags, licenses and donations. Of the hunters we do have, they’re aging out. The vast majority of hunters are baby boomers. We are losing, on average, between 6 and 9% of hunters annually.
Point blank, if we don't recruit and establish a massive number of new hunters in the near term, we will have a significant fall off of the funding available for wildlife conservation. This will not only transition decision making power away from the hunting public to policymakers, but could have a wide network of negative consequences, from Second Amendment rights to the sanctity of public lands.
To that end, our program isn’t just a weekend in the woods! We want to make a lasting impression so that our hunters take their newfound knowledge and passion and continue to hunt year after year and more importantly, share this with their friends, family and children. The compounded effect of that can far outreach our efforts. So how do we do that?
Each hunting weekend is jammed packed with experience-based knowledge to hopefully answer any and all questions related to getting you prepared to go into the woods and harvest your own food. We had Terry Houin, Kryptek ProStaff and former SEAL Sniper, provide a shooting lesson. Tyr Symack, an Army SF SGM and 18D, taught tactical casualty combat care for when things go wrong in the woods. Micheal Hyle, a founder of the HRP and a retired professional baseball player who has spent a majority of the last 20 deer seasons in a deer stand, taught our new hunters how to locate a tree and properly and safely hand a stand.
While we are just getting started, the future of the HRP is to continue to take hunters into the woods to teach these amazing skills, but that’s not enough. Together as a hunting community, we must all take someone new hunting every year. As a veteran hunter, NOTHING is more rewarding than helping a new hunter harvest and process their first game animal, thereby joining our ancient fraternity. This knowledge is only effectively passed down through this hands-on approach. We hope you’ll join us!
To find out more about HRP, follow us on instagram @hunterrecruitmentproject. To sign-up for a weekend hunt or to volunteer as a mentor for a weekend, please email us at HunterRecruitmentProject@gmail.com.