ABC’s of Hunting

When is the last time you did some hunter recruiting?

Brian McElrea, Cody Lujan and Tony Colagrossi in New Mexico

Brian McElrea, Cody Lujan and Tony Colagrossi in New Mexico

Many of us were fortunate enough to grow up in a family rich with tradition and got an early taste of what life was like on the mountain. These early roots still resonate present day as older generations pass along this “tradition” to children of their own.

Getting youth involved in the outdoors and hunting is more critical now that ever with the increase in technology, gaming and an overall disconnect with Mother Nature.

However, let us not forget about other potential new hunters and outdoorsmen that may be sitting right in front of us on a daily basis. A former sales VP I had used to hammer home the term, “Always Be Crutin” because as a sales leader your team is never fully staffed.

Another way to think of this type growth in the hunting community is the “Bill Walsh Coaching Tree”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaching_tree. Those of us passionate about football understand that Bill was an icon in the coaching community and developed a plethora of assistant coaches into future NFL head coaches. Reflecting back over the last 20 years in the NFL you can still find his DNA in the league today and some argue his greatest contribution to the game was not his high powered West Coast Offensive scheme, rather the amount of talent that he helped develop during his tenure with the 49’ers.

Who can you help recruit?

Think of folks initially that may enjoy fishing, backpacking, camping, etc. but simply have never been exposed to hunting. Maybe you know a co-worker or a neighbor that expresses interest in your various hunting excursions, but has never been themselves. Or, for those of us living in a metropolitan community it could be your “hipster” buddy who is intrigued with the thought of sourcing his own grass-fed organic meat.

Be creative with who you recruit and share with them why we do what we do. Misconceptions on hunting generally come from a lack of education or experience…so educate them through experience.

I’m fortunate to have an incredible group of friends who share the same passions and recently we started Crutin’ some other friends that we primarily fished with.

These guys are as passionate of fisherman as you’ll find, spending countless hours floating down coastal rivers in the middle of winter chasing those dime bright winter-run steelhead. They’re meticulous with monitoring river levels and weather patterns, gear preparation and documenting their successes looking for patterns that can be duplicated on future trips. They brave the winter conditions in the Pacific Northwest where you are guaranteed to get wet and cold.

These guys needed to come hunting. The perfect candidates that had never experienced the scream of a bull elk in September, the wild flowers ever so present when hunting spring bears or those blazing August days glassing for pronghorn on the prairie. They didn’t own a bow, nor did they own a rifle.

What they did own was an interest in hunting…and now it was up to us to show them the “why”.

It took some work to get Tony on his first hunt. A wife, 3 kids, work, weddings, prior vacations booked, you name it. But, in the end we made it happen. His first hunt would be chasing pronghorn in the beautiful grasslands of NE New Mexico. We only had 2 days to make something happen and our primary goal was for him to have a good time.

He bought a gun, binos, full set of Sitka gear and he was all in. Big investment but Tony doesn’t do anything half-assed. He shot his rifle religiously and got confident with how it performed. He was just as serious as any winter fishing trip we’d prepare for on the Olympic Peninsula and I loved what I was seeing.

Tony admiring his first New Mexico pronghorn on his first ever big game hunt.

Tony admiring his first New Mexico pronghorn on his first ever big game hunt.

The trip was more than a success and watching how it unfolded was inspiring. Tony made a perfect shot from 300 yards on his very first big game animal, a beautiful New Mexico pronghorn. Myself and fellow recruiter, Cody Lujan celebrated with him as he took it all in. Tony was the perfect student asking a lot of questions, listening and learning from each encounter we had. He was beyond thrilled. Matter of fact…he was addicted.

The smile says it all

The smile says it all

In the aftermath of his first hunt he bought a last minute airline ticket and joined us on our Gila rifle elk trip just a few short weeks later. Not as a fellow tag holder, but as helper to pack out meat and gain more experience.  From there he bought a new bow, more gear and planned his first backcountry Colorado archery elk hunt the following September. The hooks were in and they were in deep.

The best part about this entire event is Tony went out and recruited even more new hunters. His brother-in-law joined him in Colorado and his best friend bought a new bow and started learning how to shoot. From there he took another buddy on a pig hunt in California and third friend bought a new bow.

I’ll never top Bill Walsh and his elaborate network of future NFL coaches, however the last 18 months have been satisfying beyond anything I could image. I gained a handful of new hunting brothers and gave just a little bit back to what I love so much. The stronger we build this community of fellow hunters the more we’ll be able to protect what we love so dearly.

I challenge you to the ABC’s of hunting and finding some new people to mix it up with this fall.

Tony preparing for his first archery elk hunt - with son Anthony

Tony preparing for his first archery elk hunt – with son Anthony

Tony and his brother-in-law Matt reflecting on their first archery elk hunt in the Colorado back country.

Tony and his brother-in-law Matt reflecting on their first archery elk hunt in the Colorado back country.

Tony deep in the mountains for Colorado on his first elk hunt

Tony deep in the mountains for Colorado on his first elk hunt

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