Editors Note: You can hear Carly talk about the changes in the outdoor landscape over the last 20 years on the latest Complete Angler podcast here
TIME FOR A NEW WAY
We have certainly overcome many obstacles and negative perceptions in our hunting culture over the last 20 years. A remarkable “shift” happened, that very possibly could have saved our outdoor lifestyle. I can recall flipping through outdoor magazines in my early 20’s and seeing full-page ads portraying stacks of piled up geese, the “ultimate, must have” gear, and painted faces of angry middle-aged men proudly standing behind their kill.
THE OLD WAY
Hunting TV shows with very shallow plots circulated on Sundays, with what seemed like a “kill shot” on repeat for the full 30-minute episode. I can imagine a very small demographic of people related to this messaging (including myself). However, I give credit to the industry leaders who caught on quickly that this was not a good representation of our hunting community, nor did it help hunter recruitment in Canada. Ads became softer and started portraying the lifestyle vs the kill. Hunting TV shows became real and focused on experience, the people, and food.
“The Shift” changed the perception of hunting for many. True hunters to the forefront, which included families, women, and children.
The conversation CHANGED to what hunting actually is about – food, healthy living, traditions, ethics, conservation, and fun for the entire family.
It focused on mentorship, opportunity, education, and inclusiveness. And most importantly, it pulled together a demographic of people that share the same passions and interests creating a stronger voice for hunters and overall respect from the non-hunting communities.
CORRECTING THE DECLINE AND THE IMAGE
As we know, hunting recruitment programs have been initiated across Canada since the onset of an alarming hunter decline back in the 70’s, as a means to introduce and increase participation back into hunting and shooting sports. Hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation became a priority across the US and Canada. An overall loss of hunters on the landscape, means the loss of essential funding towards conservation initiatives and true advocates for wildlife, their habitats and our hunting lifestyles and traditions.
MANITOBA TAKING A LEAD ROLE
Manitoba has taken the lead on many fronts delivering effective hunting recruitment programs that promote respect for wildlife, responsibility, and self-reliance along with providing safe “how to” mentorship and instruction to introduce participants to shooting, hunting and outdoor related activities. These programs are a starting point for new hunters to acquire skills and knowledge, but most importantly, recruitment programs are a starting point for new hunters to immerse themselves into something much bigger – new hunters become a part of a community, a culture, and become strong proponents for wildlife and conservation.
THE NEW DAY HAS DAWNED
I am truly proud of the image we portray as hunters today and the messaging we teach to new up and coming hunters daily. I am proud of the contributions we make to conservation on a provincial and federal level and for the essential role we play in sustainable wildlife management, firearms advocacy, and safety in the field. Our hunting community is welcoming and inclusive to all, and we encourage those that are interested in learning our lifestyle to look into the many resources we have here in Manitoba to help you. Join one of our training programs or mentored hunt opportunities, engage with the Manitoba Wildlife Federation or one of our many Affiliate Clubs, to meet fellow hunters and learn more. Together let’s continue to promote inclusiveness and mentorship, share our outdoor passions with others, and educate the public on our hunting culture.