Twenty-five states have launched programs to recruit new hunters and more will follow suit in the coming months with help from grants from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The trade association for the firearm industry recently approved another $500,000 for its 2005 Hunting Heritage Partnership grants, bringing its three-year total allocation to state conservation agencies to nearly $1.5 million.
Past grants helped develop print and radio campaigns, hands-on educational workshops, hunting opportunities for disabled residents and Web-based hunter access mapping systems. The 2005 grants will be awarded to state agencies following a formal review process. The deadline for new grant proposals is April 27.
Here's a roundup of state projects funded through NSSF's Hunting Heritage Partnership.
Alabama -- The "Hunt Outdoor AlabamaShare the Wonder" program encourages mentors to introduce newcomers to hunting. Along with opening doors to rewarding and life-changing outdoor pastimes, mentors have the added inducement of winning prizes in exchange for their involvement in the program.
California --In its final planning stages, the state's Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement program is designed to increase hunting opportunities on private land throughout California.
Connecticut -- Through Connecticut's Junior Pheasant Hunting Day program, 290 young hunters have attended 25 pheasant hunting events all over the state. For about 42 percent of the youngsters, the events served as their first time hunting.
Indiana -- Two youth pheasant hunts and workshops too place in northern and southern Indiana in 2004. At the events, young hunter education graduates were paired with a mentor who guided them on their first pheasant hunt.
Iowa -- The Huntmaster program provides hunting opportunities to physically challenged sportsmen. By using a portable hydraulic hunting blind called a Huntmaster, many who otherwise wouldn't be able to get out in the field are able to.
Massachusetts -- The Massachusetts Youth Hunt Program, to be implemented this fall, is based on a survey of parents and youths and will guide young hunters on a three-part, comprehensive introduction to hunting. The program will be implemented at a number of sportsman's clubs around the state later this year.
Michigan -- Thomas Oliver, hired recently as the agency's first hunting heritage program coordinator, is overseeing three separate efforts designed to strengthen Michigan's hunting traditions. These efforts include revitalizing a hunter access program, evaluating Michigan's youth hunt programs and spearheading an effort to develop a new strategic plan to protect the state's hunting heritage over the long term.
Minnesota -- A public service announcement radio campaign is being aimed at increasing hunter participation. The campaign has not only been aimed at retaining hunters whose licenses may lapse, but it also focuses on inviting newcomers to take part in the state's fall deer season.
Nebraska -- Three separate projects are aimed at preserving the state's hunting and outdoor traditions. The first is a promotional campaign for a proposed amendment to the state constitution protecting the rights of hunting, trapping and fishing in Nebraska. Other efforts include developing a how-to guide for clubs and organizations on conducting educational outdoor programs and a campaign aimed increasing participation among youth hunters.
Nevada -- Nevada's "Family Hunt Opportunity" survey and program is helping to look for ways to encourage hunter participation among families. Ideas include special hunting areas and season openers for families who hunt together. The survey also showed that loss of access is a major barrier to family hunting participation, with urban sprawl as the primary culprit.
New Hampshire -- A marketing campaign is targeting hunters with inconsistent license-buying patterns. A colorful postcard with a "Hunt New Hampshire -- It's a Whole New Season" message was sent to 30,000 hunters. The direct-mail effort was coordinated with radio and print ads to drive prospects to a Web site featuring new where-to-go information for hunting public lands.
New Jersey -- "An Introduction to Shooting Sports," an all-day educational event, attracted more than 500 people for a day of learning about hunting and other shooting sports. About 75 hunter education instructors were on hand to assist the newcomers, who were given hands-on introductions to rifle and shotgun shooting as well as archery.
Ohio -- A direct-mail marketing campaign is targeting hunters with inconsistent license buying patterns. About 30,000 "Ohio Hunting Guide" brochures were mailed to hunters around the state. The brochures focused on deer hunting opportunities in Ohio, highlighting public lands and how to get permission to use private lands.
Oklahoma -- A marketing campaign is targeting two groups of prospective hunters: residents who hunt in some years, but not in others and young people ages 16-20 who, at some point in their youths, had attended hunter safety education courses. During 2004, six direct mail marketing packages were sent to 8,300 people in both groups, consistently reminding prospective hunters of the opportunities awaiting them in Oklahoma's woods and fields.
Pennsylvania -- A mapping program is helping hunters overcome access issues. The Pennsylvania Game Commission invested in the latest computerized mapping software to create detailed maps showing public hunting access points in all 67 counties.
South Carolina -- Launched in 2000, the agency's "Take One, Make One" program now uses a variety of approaches to introduce newcomers to hunting. One technique involves matching first-time hunters with experienced mentors; another is a special trailer outfitted with hunting simulators and live-fire pellet-gun ranges.
Tennessee -- In conjunction with the Tennessee Conservation League, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency launched a "Walk-in Hunting Access Program." The program focuses on private lands where owners are restoring wildlife habitat via state and federal incentives.
Texas -- Through the Texas Youth Hunting Program, hundreds of youths each year are given the chance to attend educational and mentored hunts. The young hunters -- ages 9 to 17 -- learn from the program's more than 1,000 trained volunteers around the state.
Vermont -- A promotional campaign is reaching out to the state's youth hunters in an effort to get them to stay involved in hunting. Postcards highlighting Vermont's deer hunting seasons were mailed out to youth hunters around the state. The postcards included a Web address where the youths could go to find more information about hunting opportunities in Vermont.
Virginia -- About 150 youths attended a variety of species-specific hunting workshops in 2004. At each event, they learned the fundamentals of hunting from hunter education instructors, mentors and other volunteers.
Washington -- "Go Hunt," a Web-based interactive mapping program, provides immeasurable amounts of information about hunting areas in the state and a wide array of statistics. Users can create and print maps showing public and private access areas, pinpointing what types of game they are looking for and find the best route to get where they want to go.
West Virginia -- For the past five years, the department has provided a number of hunting opportunities to physically challenged individuals. With its Hunting Heritage Partnership grant, the department was able to enhance the program in 2003 by purchasing additional blinds for the hunters and adaptive equipment to meet their needs.
Wisconsin --Public hunting access and special youth pheasant hunting programs were funded. Through the access program, willing landowners were paid to open private grounds for public hunting access. In all, 44,000 acres were opened statewide.
Wyoming -- Launched in 1997 and expanded in 2001, Wyoming's "Private Lands, Public Wildlife" access program directly addresses the typical hunter's most daunting obstacle -- finding a place to go. The program seeks landowners willing to grant public access to private and landlocked public lands. In 2004 alone, 2.4 million acres were made available. Officials expected the program to result in more hunting opportunities and, in turn, more hunters.
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