Understanding the concerns of new adult hunters and anglers

sv6.jpgTruly “new” hunters and anglers, especially those that did not grow up in a hunting or fishing family, are certainly curious about hunting and fishing, but also may have some concerns. Most of these concerns deal with hunting, but some also involve fishing. These concerns include:

  • Apprehension about firearms – is likely the largest concern new adult hunters have. These apprehensions are largely based on a lack of skills or knowledge to operate a firearm safely and effectively, but they can also be based on incorrect information. In many situations, their primary information sources about firearms are the movies, the media or the Internet. In some situations, these apprehensions are based on long-held family attitudes.
  • Apprehension about killing an animal – is likely the next biggest concern of new adult hunters. Killing an animal is not a frivolous activity and it should not be considered in those terms.  Most people have never killed anything bigger than an insect, nor have ever observed an animal die. For most people, including hunters, killing an animal is a daunting moral dilemma. This is especially true for someone who has untested skills with firearms.  Obviously, the goal is that the animal is quickly dispatched in a humane manner so that it produces high quality food.
  • Killing an animal also extends to fishing – but to a lesser extent. However, fishing has two related issues: 1) unhooking a fish so they are not harmed, especially for fish that are going to be released; and 2) the on-the-water storage of fish that are going to be kept. Both issues address the quality of life of the fish after you have hooked it and before it is dispatched or cleaned.
  • Dealing with blood and processing deer and fish – are also the cause of some apprehension. Some people are very sensitive to the sight of blood. Other people are very apprehensive about “gutting” an animal. Both of these issues cannot be avoided if a person is going to obtain their own wild protein. Nonetheless, program staff will need to be prepared to assist participants working through these issues.

Most participants have at least mentally addressed these issues prior to registering for the class.  However, mentally addressing them and dealing with them in the real world may be entirely different.

Working through these apprehensions will require a willingness on the participant’s part to move well outside of their comfort zone as well as having an instructor who can coax them through their apprehensions in a respectful manner.  Discussing these issues, and teaching and demonstrating proper skills in the classroom will help ensure participants are properly prepared when they go in the field.  

Anti-hunting Prejudice

Often, potential participants have extensive experience in the outdoors, and actively participate in camping, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, canoeing and/or kayaking. These participants just have not had the opportunity to hunt or fish. Many of the skills gained in these other outdoor experiences are easily transferred to hunting and fishing. 

However, harbored within some of these potential participants are stereotypical attitudes and beliefs about current hunters and anglers.

These stereotypical attitudes and beliefs may include:

  • Hunters/anglers just use hunting/fishing as an excuse to party with their friends
  • Hunters go in the woods, drink a lot of beer, tell stories, and shoot animals without using the meat
  • Hunters are careless with litter and fire
  • Anglers are careless with litter
  • Hunters/Anglers are only after sport or trophies

For all these reasons, it is critical that hunting/fishing and hunters/anglers are shown in a thoughtful and respectful manner and that instructors, partners and mentors all be well-spoken, considerate and professional.