For the first time in Georgia’s rich hunting history, a competition is being held to encourage licensed hunters to carry someone new to the woods.
We are excited to roll out the inaugural “Georgia Mentor Competition” this year. The competition will run Aug. 15, 2017—May 15, 2018, and we will be selecting and awarding prizes for Deer, Turkey and Small Game Mentors of the Year.
Each of the three winning mentors will win a gun relative to the category and be featured in a GON article next summer. Their mentee will win a Georgia Lifetime Sportsman’s License.
Here’s how it works:
• Sign up as a Mentor in the Georgia DNR volunteer database. Go to www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, locate your customer account and create a volunteer application. Finally, fill out the application, and be sure to check the Mentor box under the Qualifications/Skills/Experience heading.
• Now that you are an official mentor, you’ll be looking for a new hunter to take hunting. This will be your mentee. Make sure your mentee has a valid hunting license or an apprentice license.
Typically, when we think about taking a new hunter afield, we automatically think of youth. However, this competition is not age restrictive, and mentoring a new hunter of any age is eligible for submission. In fact, we encourage you to consider taking an adult who has an interest in hunting but no avenue to pursue it. Adults may be a more efficient audience when it comes to creating new hunters considering they have decision-making authority, financial resources, transportation and may currently or one day have children of their own.
Don’t know anyone to take? Ask around. You might be surprised how many people are interested in trying hunting but just never had the opportunity or confidence to go.
• Take a quality photo of yourself and your new hunter while hunting. There is no harvest required to enter.
• Go to www.gon.com/mentor and fill out the online submission form. During this process, you will need to provide a GA DNR Customer ID Number for yourself and the new hunter.
The Mentor of the Year for each category will be chosen by the Georgia Mentor Competition selection panel made up of judges from five organizations (GWF, QDMA, NWTF, GADNR and GON). The judges will base their selections on their evaluation of the mentor’s responses to the application questions, and the panel will vote on the finalists to select the Mentor of the Year for each category.
Look at these great prize packages.
• The Deer Mentor of the Year will receive a Bergara B-14 Hunter 6.5 Creedmor, sponsored by the Quality Deer Management Association.
• The Turkey Mentor of the Year will receive a Mossberg 500 Turkey 12 gauge, sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The Small Game Mentor of the Year will receive a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, sponsored by the Georgia Wildlife Federation.
All three winners will be included in a feature article in magazine. All three of the mentees will receive Georgia Lifetime Sportsman’s Licenses, sponsored by the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation.
The Georgia R3 Initiative
After years of a steady downward trend, Georgia has finally seen an increase in hunting participation. However, despite this recent uptick, we make up an incredibly small percentage of the population, and it’s getting smaller. Hunting license sales determine not only the amount of federal funds Georgia receives, but they also generate revenue which goes directly back into conservation. It is a fact that the number of license-buying hunters directly effects the number and quality of sporting opportunities in Georgia. We need more hunters and people who support hunting, and we’re going to need your help to do it.
The Georgia R3 Initiative began in December 2015 and was the first truly cooperative effort aimed at recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of hunters at a state level. The Georgia R3 Initiative as a whole encompasses all stakeholders in Georgia, including hunters themselves who are the most crucial piece of the puzzle. To date, we have successfully removed barriers between stakeholders, developed a strategic approach in the form of a state-specific plan, piloted learn-to-hunt programs for audiences from non-traditional backgrounds, and now through the Georgia R3 Mentor Competition, we want to reward hunters who enjoy taking new people afield with them.
About The Author: Charles Evans earned his bachelor’s and master’s in wildlife biology from the University of Georgia and now works for the Georgia Wildlife Federation as the Georgia R3 Coordinator. His position—which is also supported by QDMA, NWTF, Safari Club International and Georgia DNR-WRD—was created to increase hunting participation and societal acceptance of hunting in Georgia.