Okayest Hunter Mentoring New Hunters And Welcoming Them To The Hunting Community
By Steph Lane | PUBLISHED May 4th, 2022
The first few times I was approached about mentoring new hunters, I was pretty hesitant. Of course, I want to see others enjoying the outdoors as I do but, I thought- me? I am no expert. I still have so much to learn myself, can I do this? What if they ask me questions I don't know the answer to? What if we don't see a thing and they hate it? There has to be someone better qualified, than me, to get them out there!
Heck, I have had my fair helping of tag soup and I am going to help someone else fill theirs?
Years later being on the other side and now being a part of mentoring and coaching over 100 shooters and hunters, I can put that hesitancy and limited thinking to rest. The belief that you have to know it all or be an expert is simply not true. Mentoring is not defined, there are so many ways we can support new hunters.
Much of the time when someone is brand new to hunting it might be best not to be an "expert". And here's why. They are NEW! Most of the time they want the basics, the how to get started. Steps 1, 2, and 3. They want to be supported and guided to build the confidence to possibly do this on their own someday, to be a little more knowledgeable than they were yesterday. And you didn't know it all your first day right? RIGHT! None of us will really ever know it all and I don't believe new hunters expect that of their mentors either!
Here's what you do need! Some knowledge and experience with the game you're after. Firearm safety and know how. What to do with the game. The willingness to give someone a great experience outdoors. Patience with others and with yourself. And of course all the legal necessities, tags, licenses, etc.
Be honest when you don't know the answers. You will probably be surprised how much you do know and how capable you actually are! If there is someone looking for support, don’t be afraid to be a part of their journey. In my experience, taking someone else hunting only makes you fall in love with the outdoors more and motivates you to continue to be better. We must put our new hunters with safe and ethical ones, no question. But we can’t wait to be perfect to spread the love and knowledge of the outdoors because we will be waiting for something that will never be.
So I encourage you to try. You’re not just changing their life, you are changing yours. To keep and protect the way of life we love, we must pass it on.