Editor's note: From Outdoors Weekend contributor Tony Jones, who wrote here about the dearth of hunting mentors, in the Star Tribune on March 9.
For those who worry about the steady decline in hunters and anglers in Minnesota, training this week for hunting mentors was a welcome success: Fifty people registered for a program in two days. Co-hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the training was held Monday at the Uptown VFW Post 246 in Minneapolis. The main speaker was James Burnham, the DNR’s hunter and fishing recruitment coordinator. In a Star Tribune Outdoors story last month, Burnham said that there were more people in Minnesota who want to learn to hunt than there are mentors. He repeated that Monday, as well as his conviction that new participants are more likely to come from nontraditional channels (people of color and millennials). Those are positive trends, Burnham said. Women are the one segment of Minnesota hunters that is growing.
Among Burnham’s other points were that new hunters will likely be more into putting meat in their freezers than trying to drop a buck with a large rack, and he encouraged mentors to avoid insider-jargon, such as “APR” (antler point restrictions), with novices.
The crowd was notably young, a reflection of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers’ core, with many in their 20s and 30s. Burnham told the prospective mentors that he expects them to take a novice hunting this fall and to help newcomers with buying gear, scouting, and planning. Burnham offered to help pair the mentors with novice hunters and even to help them find land to hunt.
Burnham said that more mentor trainings are in the works, but first he’s got another task — coordinating the mentors for Gov. Tim Walz’s first Governor’s Wild Turkey Opener on April 27.