Food for Thought: Increasing Return on Investment by Reaching Out to Recruit New Adult Hunters

Sponsoring Agency or Organization

Contact: Keith Warnke


Phone: 6085765243

Program details

North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference Workshop

Approximately 80 representatives from many states, federal agencies, industry, and NGOs attended the workshop. The room was full to standing. We front-end loaded the event to accommodate busy schedules and the need for participants to attend many events.

Events and programs targeting youth have historically been the staple of hunter recruitment strategies. While these programs are enjoyed by participants and mentors alike, research shows that they are generally only marginally successful at producing new license buyers.

In the majority of cases, participants in these programs are the children of hunters, and would likely become hunters with or without these events. If the goal of an agency or organization is to stem the tide of falling hunter numbers by engaging new participants, most current programs provide a low return on investment.

Training adults who have a deep vested interest in hunting nature and conservation provides a strong return on investment.

Why? Because adults want to hunt, have the decision-making authority necessary to hunt, have money they are willing to spend on hunting, have their own transportation, and have an active community to support their initial and continued involvement. Perhaps most importantly, active adult hunters are the best-equipped mentors for teaching their own children to hunt.

Adults seeking to live sustainably are emerging as a driving force behind this increased interest in hunting. Hunting provides these individuals local, wild food but most people lack the skills and knowledge to hunt and do not have access to knowledgeable mentors. This represents an untapped source of future engaged conservationists and license buyers connected to each other through food co-ops, slow food organizations, and farmer’s markets.

The workshop focused on why a paradigm shift from youth-focused recruitment and retention programs is important to agencies, non-profit organizations, industry, and the broader conservation community. There were presentations from three states currently piloting adult/family recruitment programs, along with a lively panel session. We added 30 names to our email and outreach lists for further follow up. Attendees learned how to effectively reach, recruit and train new adult hunters, and workshop presenters shared examples of successful pilot programs that can be expanded and applied for any agency or organization.

Planning and Evaluation

Program objectives: 

Provide exposure to hunting for adults who have had no exposure to hunting.

Recruit, train, and mentor adults into hunting.

Capitalize on the interest in food as a reason to start hunting.

Provide the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary for adults to start hunting and create the social habitat in which they will be supported.

Manual or Plan

This program has a manual or plan: Yes

Comments: Each state that has a similar program will have a manual.


This program is evaluated: In Progress

Metrics used to measure success and evaluate this program:

(Click on the link for each of these metrics to see programs that use the same metrics)

Program considerations and recommendations

Critical elements to consider when planning this type of program: See Learn to hunt pdf.

Special facilities needed to implement the program: See Learn to hunt pdf.


Approximate cost to agency/organization to implement program: $5000.00

Approximate staff effort required to implement program: 50 - 100 hours