Backcountry Hunters & Anglers were proud to partner with The Center for Jackson Hole (the parent organization of SHIFT and The Emerging Leaders Program), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Boone and Crocket Club to put on an all-encompassing weekend on the ethics, mechanics, and unknowns of becoming a hunter. Fourteen University of Montana students spent three days at the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial Ranch on the scenic Rocky Mountain Front in mid-September soaking in a wealth of knowledge.
This weekend was a powerful demonstration of Backcountry Hunter and Anglers commitment to recruiting young adults in becoming ethical hunters & anglers as well as public land stewards. Students were exposed to a comprehensive itinerary of knowledge relating not just to harvesting an animal—but also butchering, cooking techniques, survival tips, and ethics. Students learned how and where to find game, how to ensure a rifle is accurate, and the history and legacy of hunting relating to conservation in North America. A deer was harvested by ELP alumni Sawyer Connelly, was field-dressed, butchered, and cooked with the help of all participating students.
In addition for Hunting for Sustainability, and made possible by The Center for Jackson Hole’s Hunting and Fishing Mentorship grant, three students were awarded a scholarship to pay for their out-of-state hunting licenses, granting them the opportunity to hunt and fish in Montana while attending university. This is an integral component of our year-long program as we recognize the primary obstacle of hunter recruitment is cost and successfully established a program to assist students and allow them to engage and benefit from our public lands.
Hunting for Sustainability prioritizes the recruitment of women in hunting. We believe the future of hunting and fishing is dependent on full integration of every demographic. Madeline Damon, a sophomore Wildlife Biology student was a proud recipient of this scholarship and attended Hunting for Sustainability.
Madeline spoke to the obstacles women face in hunting and how our program is benefiting her.
“I feel like I’m not taken seriously in hunting circles because I am a woman, therefore I can’t have significant experiences with hunting,” she said. “I want to be told the same hunting stories and hear the same advice, but sometimes I feel like this is a privilege reserved for a close knit male hunting community.”
“Hunting for Sustainability boosted my confidence by including us in every step of the hunt, from the planning of the hunting spot to the processing of the meat.”
Hannah Leonard, a 26 year old graduate student and attendee at Hunting for Sustainability, also spoke to the challenges of being a women in the hunting world.
“The worst part of being a woman in the hunting world is probably the retail aspect of things,” she said. “From being talked down to when purchasing hunting equipment to not being able to find properly fitting clothing. It can be really discouraging.”
Their experiences speak to more than a hunting industry problem; the outdoor industry in general witnesses similar, male-centric representation and market bias. This issue was a key aspect to The 2017 SHIFT conference and is central to The Center for Jackson Hole’s involvement in adaptively refining the outdoor industry. We look forward to supporting our female program cohort and supplying them with the resources and mentorship necessary for becoming independent substitutive consumers.
With the first component of our mentorship program behind us, we are now working hard to pair these students with experienced mentors for the fall hunting season in Montana. Students will apply the skills they learned in September to harvesting their first animal on Montana’s public lands. We are grateful for our partnership with The Center for Jackson Hole and look forward to continuing to successfully implement our unique program.
~Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Artemis Sportswomen