I’ve been observing an intriguing trend in the hunting community over the past several years, and while I’ve commented on it a time or two, I’ve never really had the time or incentive to explore it more thoroughly.   (I’m not sure that I have that time or incentive now, for that matter, but what the heck… if I don’t start, I’ll never finish.)

So, then… what I’ve been seeing is an ever-increasing influx of hunters who are coming to the sport late in life.  Some of them may have had early exposure to hunting and shooting, but never got fully involved.  Many others are completely new to it. 

Personally, as someone who literally grew up hunting, I’m curious as to what these folks’ experiences must be like, what motivated them to start hunting, and what challenges they face getting started and becoming successful.  Who do these new hunters turn to for mentoring or inspiration?  How do they learn… and just as importantly… what are they learning?

I’m also intrigued by what this new crop of hunters will bring to the general hunting “ethic”.  What I have seen so far suggests that there’s a very different perspective, and it’s carried to further extremes, by individuals who recently made the decision to take up a blood sport.  I think this fresh point of view holds some pretty big implications for the future of hunting, although for better or worse remains to be seen. 

For now, I’m simply glad to see that there are still more people coming into the community.  We’ve (hunters) been at serious risk of stagnation as the older generations fade away, and the new generations don’t have the interest or the time to take up the sport. 

This train of thought was chugging through my mind back in May, when I saw an article in the SF Chronicle about an organization calling itself the “Bull Moose Hunting Society.”   The gist of the article is that a couple of guys in San Francisco wanted to start hunting, and realized that there were very few resources, especially in the urban environment, for people to learn how to hunt.  They also found that there was a lot of interest in eating wild game meat, even by folks who would probably never hunt for it themselves. 

I followed the article link to the Bull Moose Hunting Society website to learn more about the organization.  These guys had stumbled onto a great idea and a fascinating concept.  That concept has evolved a little from it’s original roots as a sort of “wild game cooperative”, but it’s still an excellent idea.  One of the things that particularly captured my attention, though, was the Mission Statement:

Leave no trace, take a clean shot, respect the animal, be a part of nature; these are qualities we at the Bull Moose Hunting Society express and would like to instill in a new generation of hunters, of human predators. Where the government of this country fails to establish ethical hunting guidelines, we educate and inform. Where the urbanized people of this country are removed from nature, we provide a means to return. Where the private landowners feel repulsed at unruly trophy hunters, we are an alternative. Bull Moose is an organization dedicated to providing a means for those of us who have lost our instincts, our predatory skills and our connection to the wild world to get those parts of ourselves back. We provide guidance through state hunting regulations and equipment purchases. We provide a link between private landowners and responsible, ethical hunters like ourselves. And most importantly, we bring the wild out in you.

That truly is a “statement”.  There’s a lot there, and it speaks volumes about this “nouveau hunting ethic” that I’ve been wondering about… at least as these guys see it. 

After reading and digesting a bit, I shot an email off to Bull Moose Hunting Society founders, Nick Zigelbaum and Nick Chaset to see if they’d be willing to answer a few questions.  It took a while to get our respective crap together, but we did finally get a chance to do a little email interview.   

I don’t really like the Q&A format on a blog, but in the interest of getting everything in context, here’s the entire exchange (excluding a couple of questions that were left unanswered): (more…)