Let’s share the passion, Minnesota hunters! This season, we encourage hunters to invite someone new to get outside, mentor and make memories together. Spending time with someone who already hunts is the easiest way for beginners to learn.
Take someone new hunting
We’ve partnered with Pheasants Forever to share their Hunter Mentor Pledge in Minnesota. Take the online pledge to bring a new or lapsed hunter into the field or forest. This challenge is open to all in-season game species. Then, after your hunt, submit a photo and short recap on the Pheasants Forever website, and you and the new hunter will be entered to each win a custom prize from Pheasants Forever. Click below to be entered to win.
Get started mentoring
- Found someone who’d like to try hunting? Plan your trip before you go.
Start with a conversation and find out why the person you’re talking to wants to go hunting. Different motivations for hunting may shape the kinds of hunting you do with them. For example, if they’re interested in filling the freezer, maybe start with talking about deer hunting. If they love hikes through the forest or walking through waves of tall grass, then maybe steer toward grouse or pheasant hunting. Have these conversations in low-stakes places, like over a cup of coffee.
- Identify what they want to get out of a hunting experience
Do they want a full limit of whatever you’re chasing? Do they want to explore areas they’ve never been in before or spend time with a new dog they’ve got? All of these can influence what you do with them, when you do it, and how.
- Determine what they are comfortable with before you go out
Know this before you're out in the woods. If they’re not able to sit still for hours on end, then spring turkey hunting without a blind is probably not a good idea. If they’re not comfortable walking for long distances, or over uneven terrain, then maybe skip chasing pheasants through a cattail marsh. Talk to them and find out what kind of conditions they’re good with.
- Assess their skill sets and get in some practice time
Once you’ve got an idea of what you’ll do, recognize that different people have different experiences and sometimes those experiences can help, or hurt, a new hunter’s introduction to these activities. For example, life-long deer hunters may have plenty of experience and comfort around firearms, but have a hard time wing-shooting if it’s not something they’ve ever tried.
- Help look into licensing and certifications
Depending on what species you are going to target and your hunt location, your mentee may need additional stamps or validations. Before you go, make sure they have the proper licensing. Additionally, depending on their age, they may need either their hunter’s safety certification or their apprentice hunter validation.
- Explain your thought process
When you’re out in the field, talk through why you make the decisions you make. Why did you pick that specific way to get to the hunting spot, or choose that specific tree to sit up against? Make sure they understand why you picked the spot you picked and the factors that you considered to get there. Most new hunters don’t know the amount of thought that goes into these decisions and walking them through your process makes the experience more meaningful and educational for the new person.
- Keep it light
This is not the time to “toughen” someone up or break their spirit because that’s how you were taught. The goal is that the person you are taking out hunting connects with these activities and wants to do more of it. If they’re not having fun, then there’s no shame in calling it early and trying something else.
- Respect their journey and reactions
When a new hunter harvests an animal for the first time, there can be a range of emotions they experience. They might feel relief, pride, happiness and regret all at the same time. They may be so full of adrenaline that they shake. Read their reactions and respond appropriately. You might be over the moon with excitement for them, but if they need a moment to process things, give them that time and space. Meet them where they are at and let them process the experience in their own way.
- Follow up with them
Most new hunters aren’t in the practice of keeping track of when licenses or tags go on sale. They may not be following when gear or equipment they could use goes on sale, and they may not be aware of when the best time to go scouting new spots, or getting practice at the shooting range may be. Follow up with them. Keep them in the loop and let them know if deadlines for special hunts or seasons they may be interested in are coming up. Help them get aware of this stuff ahead of time, so they’re not crunched for time or rushed to get ready for a trip because being rushed adds stress and new trips can be hard enough without that added stress.
- Stay involved
If you’ve been hunting your whole life, you likely had folks who were around you that you went with, that you talked about it with, and that were available when you had questions for years and years. Mentoring someone new goes beyond just one weekend in the woods or on the waters. You don’t need to be available 24/7, but staying in touch, reaching out and making sure they’re doing ok with things, or finding out what their latest adventures are can be important to keeping them involved. More than that, it helps you see what they’re doing, which can be a really enjoyable experience.
Resources for new hunters
The DNR has many helpful resources for new hunters. As you make your plan to take a friend hunting, feel free to share these resources with them.
- Learn to hunt webpage: View tips to get started, hunter’s safety certification info, how-to guides, places to hunt and more.
- Apprentice hunter validation: Did you know a new hunter can try hunting before they take hunter’s safety? All they need is their apprentice hunter validation, their license and a licensed adult hunter with them.
- Becoming an Outdoors Woman program: Join us for a weekend workshop, skills class or online webinar. This is a great way for women to gain new outdoors skills and techniques.
- Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship webinars: Learn how to sharpen your outdoor skills with live weekly webinars, every Wednesday at noon, and watch past webinars to learn hunting tips from experts.