Author: Jackie Holbrook
Operating a business in the hunting industry comes with the responsibility of being ethical and conservation-minded. While it’s important to your success to market products and showcase the benefits of your business, it’s equally as important to preserve the future of hunting by guiding customers into being good stewards of the sport. As customers buy your products, shop in your store and use your services, it’s your chance to provide them with important information and lessons. Here are some ways to organically spread the message of ethics and conservation.
Tell Them Where Their Money Goes
You’re thankful for their business because it fuels your success, but customers might not understand that purchasing products also funds conservation. Tell your customers that when they buy archery equipment or a hunting license, they’re paying a federal excise tax on the gear and license fees. Explain that this excise tax arose from the Wildlife Restoration Act, aka the Pittman-Robertson Act. This money goes to wildlife agencies to fund conservation projects including habitat restoration, hunter education, public access and wildlife research. Understanding that their purchase of licenses and products helps conservation can help customers understand that they play an important role in the sustainable future of hunting.
Use Questions as an Opportunity to Share Information
Your customers look to you as an expert, not only on your products and services but on all things hunting. Be open with your knowledge. It’s also a natural opportunity to share information about ethics in the field. When you’re answering questions, demonstrate how your choices respect the land, wildlife, fellow hunters and nonhunters.
Make sure you're practicing ethical hunting and only share respectful hunting images on your social media. Photo Credit: ATA
Be an Example
Swapping stories is part of the archery shop experience. How you speak about your hunts and experiences influences customers. Speak kindly about fellow hunters and encounters with nonhunters. Demonstrate respect for the wildlife. If you’re sharing or posting photos, make sure that they’re tasteful. This kind of ethical attitude toward hunting will encourage people to do the same.
A new hunter might mess up due to lack of understanding. This could look like not fully extinguishing a campfire or showing a nonhunter a photo with a lot of blood on the animal. You don’t want to make customers feel uncomfortable, but find ways to educate about mistakes or misunderstandings. Encourage new hunters to take a hunter’s education course and always review the latest hunting regulations.
Ethics Benefit Everyone
The future of hunting depends on recruiting and retaining new hunters. Be part of this movement by creating hunters who care. Ethical hunters benefit everyone. Unfortunately, a few wrongdoers can make a big impact. This is particularly true with public perception. For example, if hunters leave litter at a campsite or purposefully create conflict with nonhunters, it can impact nonhunters’ views of all hunters. As you speak with customers, partner with influencers and share content on social media, be sure that strong ethics are present in every interaction.
Inspire customers to take part in advocacy efforts. Tell them about local cleanup and habitat restoration project volunteer days. Encourage them to become members of reputable wildlife conservation organizations. Membership funds important work. Membership also connects customers with like-minded people.
We’re Here to Help
ATA has a lot of resources to help showcase ethics and conservation:
- Conservation Initiative: The ATA’s Conservation Initiative strives to boost hunting participation nationwide by teaching archers and nonhunters their role in conservation and detailing how hunters contribute generously to wildlife management programs. The initiative shares activities, resources and information with ATA members and partners to help recruit new hunters and explain how outdoorsmen and women improve land access, wildlife management and habitat restoration programs.
- Field to Fork Curriculum: The ATA worked with partners to create the guidebook Field to Fork: A Curriculum for Mentored Hunts. It gives step-by-step directions for hosting mentorship programs that teach new hunters how to confidently source and cook their own meat.
- Hunting Mentor Guide: The ATA’s Hunting Mentor Guide provides ATA members and partners with resources and knowledge to help nonhunters become hunters. It explains why it’s important to mentor and create new hunters, and helps you find potential new hunters, train new mentors and brainstorm what to do for a mentored hunt.
- Bowhunters United: A national consumer-facing bowhunting organization that’s owned and operated by the ATA, Bowhunters United works to unite bowhunters and bowhunting organizations and compiles trusted resources for bowhunters.
For more information about conservation initiatives, contact Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (507) 233-8145.