A hunter motivated by Affiliation seeks to create and develop relationships with others through hunting. These hunters pursue game because they mostly enjoy the interactions with family and friends. They hunt for the social support the activity provides them. Coming home with a trophy is secondary. Any venison is merely a bonus. The emphasis of this group is focused on “being a hunter”, that is, developing an identity as a hunter, not just on “going hunting.” This social interaction creates a fabric, with members recognizing and adopting qualities and beliefs, along with the skills, associated with being a hunter.
The Think Tank participants brainstormed a list of barriers and opportunities to increasing hunter participation. They then selected issues they felt important and ranked them in priority order. Social support was listed as the most important factor in encouraging participation. In the opinion of the Think Tank improving social support, especially increasing positive influence from social groups outside the program, is possibly the most important factor. The committee stated, “Social competence is developed through socialization and social control.” The “social control” is exerted by others in more senior roles, mentors fostering apprenticeship. The mentors provide role models and enhance social support providing an understanding of hunting culture.
Fostering Affiliation-Oriented Hunters
The best way to encourage Affiliation-oriented hunters is providing them with plenty of opportunity to interact through hunting. The biggest obstacle to satisfying Affiliationmotivated hunters is the lack of opportunities to actually hunt. For example, a big game hunter living in Wisconsin has a scant nine days all year. Occasions to meet for a “bonding experience” are restricted by game laws.
Ideally, hunters could participate in hunting at their leisure, all year long. Obviously, we can’t just change game laws in order to encourage recruitment. Instead, we need to find alternative programs. A program that can put hunters in the same situations they will face in the field and can be participated in all year long would be an ideal substitute during off-season days. Mentors fostering apprenticeship create social competence. A program that tests relevant skills in an organized fashion is ideal. Experienced hands can demonstrate and assist novices. Progress should be easy to evaluate and monitor. The Think Tank concluded the issue of working with Affiliate-oriented hunters with a call for many options. “The issue of social support for hunters and hunting is complex and pervasive. It is far beyond the scope of any single program, agency, or organization to solve by itself. However, there are many actions that individual programs, agencies, and organizations can take to move in the right direction–to help introduce more people to hunting and shooting activities and to increase their participation at every stage in their hunting/shooting ‘careers.’ ”