Path to the Uplands

0c271661-1514-45bf-b888-9780b7e3c313 By Colby Kerber

Each year millions of individuals around the world set new goals or “New Year’s Resolutions” because it seems like a natural time to make important changes in our lives. One of the problems with this calendar year reset is that we typically set our resolutions in a generic way that doesn’t involve specific action or steps to achieve them. This year I challenge you to set a simple, but very meaningful resolution that will affect not only your life but someone else’s too. My challenge is for you to take someone new or lapsed afield with you this year.

Hunting in the United States is a vital part of our culture and although most Americans support hunting for food, involvement continues to decline as hunters age out and represent a smaller percentage of the overall population. The issues creating the decline in hunter numbers are complex but the solution to the problem can be simple: introduce someone new to hunting and the great outdoors.

For many of us, hunting is a tradition and a natural part of our lives as we enjoy spending time outdoors with family and pursuing wild game with friends. Unfortunately, there are thousands of other interested people who would love to experience wild places and learn outdoor skills, but don’t have access to quality hunting mentors. Most of these individuals have no social support and the perception that hunting is too complicated has held them back from their first hunting experience. Because of this dynamic, we are taking a new approach to one of the demonstration areas at Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic by providing a unique experience through our “Path to the Uplands” stage during this year’s event in Minneapolis on February 14-16.

We all utilize these beautiful wide-open spaces and have a passion for the serenity that is provided by upland wildlife habitat, but we have different motivations that drive our interest in these common grounds… and that’s OK! The presentations for this stage will aim to tell a compelling story based on unique individual’s “Path to the Uplands” including how they got involved, why they are still connected and how you can help get others involved. There are so many reasons why people spend time in the uplands and a variety of starting points (public lands, women events, shooting sports, mentoring, etc.) so hopefully the presentations will inspire new people to find their own “Path to the Uplands” and encourage current outdoor enthusiasts to engage others along the way.
 
Photo by Marissa Jensen

The dynamic presentations for the new Path to the Uplands stage, with ALPS OutdoorZ joining our efforts as the stage’s presenting sponsor, will cover many reasons people want to be in the uplands including; dogs, harvesting fresh food, friendships, outdoor experience, exercise, and conservation from well-known organizations and speakers; including, NAVHDA, onXmaps, Modern Carnivore, Pheasants Forever Journal Editor Tom Carpenter, The Dear Hunter Project, Dave Miller of CZ-USA, Tom Fiumarello, Pollinator Partnership, and Mark & Sally Stevens. As part of the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever national Women on the Wing initiative, the stage will also feature presentations from Ashley Peters, Simone Schara, and Tina Dokken that focus on unique ways to introduce and retain women into upland hunting.

Recruiting, retaining and reactivating (R3) hunter-conservationists is a team effort and it takes passionate people stepping up to the plate to preserve our outdoor lifestyle. One of the most incredible experiences as outdoor enthusiasts is taking someone with you to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. It not only represents an investment in our hunting heritage and wildlife conservation, but you’ll find that it is more rewarding than you could have ever imagined, so we challenge you to include R3 as part of your New Year’s Resolution this year. As part of that journey, we invite you to join us at the “Path to the Uplands” stage at National Pheasant Fest Quail Classic coming up this February in Minneapolis and highly encourage you to bring along an inspiring new sportsman or sportswomen…you won’t regret it!