Three new Wisconsin recruits – a 2017 challenge

This past year, 2016, seemed to have it in for me. An unexpected surgery kept me from full participation in the spring turkey hunt and some of the best fishing of the year.  As the year transitioned into summer, it became clear that my fishing efforts were not to be rewarded with highlights. Fall brought an unsuccessful moose hunt and an underwhelming hunt for grouse and woodcock. By November’s end it seemed that the whitetail rut was over before it even started.

Some years are like that, but success or failure, I feel honored to be able to fish and hunt and wouldn’t trade it for anything. That said, I am ready to turn the calendar and embrace the promise of the new year.

I’ve never been much on New Year’s resolutions, but I am a goal setter, and among my 2017 outdoor goals is a recruitment challenge. In 2017, I will take at least three new people fishing or hunting

As outdoor enthusiasts, we talk a lot about recruitment, and we should. It is no secret that participation in hunting, trapping, and fishing is in a decline that shows little sign of ceasing – “we are dying” as a colleague in the industry frankly stated.

Most hunters, trappers, or anglers have pitched in and participated in some recruitment effort; we’ve taken a kid fishing, or participated in a youth turkey hunt, or a youth deer hunt. Let me ask you; how many of those kids came from families that already had some level of participation in outdoor sports? How many of those kids would have hunted or fished eventually, with or without your help?

A cynic could call these outings “guide trips,” but I am not ready to make that judgment. Even if we are preaching to the choir, these efforts have value; you are showing someone a different style of hunting or fishing or even just a new perspective. Your students will gain knowledge, encouragement, and the confidence to eventually go it alone. We absolutely need to continue these efforts, but we have to think of these outings as continuing education and not recruitment

If we are serious about recruitment, we have to reach beyond the choir. We must seek out kids, or adults who have never, and probably would never, hunt or fish, without our help.

So, allow me to put a finer point on my goal; in 2017, I will take at least three people fishing or hunting, who have no background in the outdoors.

Three people might seem like a modest number, but it’s a start and I hope to under promise and over deliver on this goal.

Three new recruits in 2017 – will you join me in this challenge?

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